Through its various topics, this new issue of 3D ADEPT Mag attempts to provide an answer to a single question: What does our industry need right now? It includes the following exclusive features:
POST-PROCESSING, the last step in the manufacturing process
Industrials have spent the last twenty years singing the praises of additive manufacturing but reality shows that if there is one thing that truly enables to appreciate the benefits and the results of this technology, it is post-processing. The only thing is that post-processing is a complex, confusing and sometimes disturbing stage of the manufacturing process.
Post-processing is an umbrella term that covers a variety of stages that 3D printed parts have to undergo before being used for the final purpose. No matter what post-processing stage the AM part needs to go through, the goal remains the same: removing the undesired properties that have been built-in the final product during the additive manufacturing process.
A MATTER OF LIABILITY
If there is one area where health and medical 3D Printing differ from general 3D Printing, it is liability. The term has never been so controversial than in this field. Indeed, 3D printed medical and health-related models can result in various forms of liability issues, and surprisingly, one way to avoid liability issue with 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing is to ensure that post-processing has been completed properly.
“Air treatment is to production environment what materials are to 3D Printers”
Over the past 40 years since the introduction of 3D Printing, 3D Printer manufacturers have been looking for various solutions to improve technology and achieve the right first-time additive manufacturing process. They have been addressing issues at various levels: software, hardware, materials but they rarely considered the production environment.
As we write these lines, we cannot help but think about what we learned during this trip we took to Sweden to visit an additive manufacturing (AM) plant: part of building a great company is having the right facilities and the right tools for the teams, customers and suppliers to work with, and developing the best possible products. In industries that require a production environment, this means understanding how external elements can impact the manufacturing process and the working environment and learning how to “manage what seems to be out of control”: dusts, fumes, odours, gases and vapours.
The issue might seem trivial yet is crucial and addressing it the right way can literally help any manufacturer save money. Companies that are uniquely positioned to understand such a situation are air technologies providers, and an exchange with ULT AG tells us how.
Envisioning a post-COVID-19 World for our industry
Words of Nora TOURE
As most European countries and states in the US are initiating a post-COVID-19 phase and lifting some of their restrictions, I can’t help but think about what’s next for our industry.
We probably can all agree that the COVID-19 crisis got 3D printing “on the map”. I hate to think about this pandemic in any positive way at all, but I got to say, as an industry, it triggered the best in us. We started working together, towards a same goal, organizing ourselves on an individual, but also on a corporate level, forcing us sometimes to refocus on our core business and technology.
In just a couple of months, over a hundred of 3D printing COVID-19 responses, and probably millions of 3D printed personal protective equipment pieces later, here we are, trying to get back to business as usual.
But what does business as usual mean in a post-COVID-19 world?
Have priorities changed for our customers? Is there still room for additive manufacturing?
How do we make our small, and sometimes not so small, 3D printing business to survive all this? Grow and thrive from this unprecedented crisis?
Artificial Intelligence & Additive Manufacturing, where are we?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is part of these advanced technologies that promise massive leaps forward in productivity, environmental friendliness and quality of life, yet confusion around the technology is stronger than ever and dampens its effective integration in manufacturing. Where is therefore the place of AI in a manufacturing sector covered by Additive Manufacturing technologies?
How to mitigate supply chain risks
When considering Additive Manufacturing for its speed, flexibility, and efficiency, it’s crucial to understand supply chain and operational optimization. That’s something we have learned from our conversation with Link3D’s CEO & Co-founder, Shane Fox.
Fox worked for a couple of technology companies in the past, but the one that marked a significant turning point in his career is Within technologies, a topology optimization software company. That’s how he got exposed to 3D Printing. “We were really on the cutting-edge of topology optimization and DfAM,” Fox recalls.
In 2014, Within Technologies was acquired by Autodesk. Fox continued at Autodesk as an additive manufacturing evangelist traveling the globe meeting with some of the most advanced Autodesk clients across key industries, including aerospace/defense, energy, automotive, medical, and consumer products. Industry agnostic challenges included operational efficiency tools, manufacturing execution systems, and quality management systems.
“What became apparent was introducing, and scaling AM was critical to the success of these industries. In these industries, a solution was needed to drive the success of this new supply chain.”, said Fox.
Recycled materials for 3D printing: Can we effectively fill the gap between plastic waste and AM?
A team of researchers from the University of California (Santa Barbara) recently discovered that more than 9 billion tons of plastic have been made since the 1950s, and the great majority of it has been thrown in the trash. Plastics are used everywhere, including in the 3D printing industry. Logic would have it then that, since this technology is considered as a sustainable manufacturing process, it would enable less waste, especially at the materials level, hence the increasing use of recycled materials as an alternative. The only thing is that this alternative raises several questions regarding its viability, and effective use for leveraging AM as a mass production tool or a series production tool.