With 3-D printing, manufacturers can make existing products more efficiently—and create ones that weren’t possible before.
This is one of the probably dozens of articles to come after GE Aviation buying Morris Tech. Nothing new for those of us in the AM business for years, but it is certainly the kick off for public concern.
Nevertheless this article points out main concerns and issues:
* “There’s not a day we don’t hear from one of the other divisions at GE interested in using this technology.” Of course, it is a horizontal tech enabler.
* "3-D printing techniques won’t just make it more efficient to produce existing part but they will also make it possible to produce things that weren’t even conceivable before": Absolutely.
* "The technology has been adapted to only a limited set of materials, and there have been questions about quality control", although some machine manufacturers claim that every material can be processed. They do not talk about the expensive development of processing conditions for a new material to behave as it being processed by conventional technologies.
* "Aerospace companies are at the forefront of adopting the technology...not critical to fligh" . About 20,000 parts made by laser sintering are already flying in military and commercial aircraft made by Boeing, and EADS is using the technology to make titanium parts in satellites and hopes to use it for parts it makes in higher volume for Airbus planes.
* “Now we can optimize the design of these parts for weight, and we save material and labor” yes, that's the point.
* "the company hopes to gain design flexibility by using 3-D printing for more parts...", again.
* “3-D printing often ends up being a black art. A part is made out of thousands of layers, and each layer is a potential failure mode. We still don’t understand why a part comes out slightly differently on one machine than it does on another, or even on the same machine on a different day.”
* "the time it takes to produce a part will have to improve as much as a hundredfold if 3-D printing is to compete directly with conventional manufacturing techniques" but just a few paragraphs before we read: "a redesigned version came out of the printer within a week. Before, we would have had to redesign 20 different parts, with all the associated tooling...It might not have even been possible.”
So my conclusion is: Additive Manufacturing is god enough, fast enough, reliable enough for certain applications, but if we make it better, faster, and more robust it will have a deeper penetration in industrial sectors.
Nothing new, nothing different. Good news
Thanks to Nick Hardman (Director at Hardmarque) for posting this