3D Printing Takes the Cost of Complexity to Zero
Whats is the definition of “game changer” for metals manufacturing? Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), a 3D printing process that eliminates binding agents and uses 400-1000 W lasers to melt micro powders together, layer by layer until a 3D CAD model of a part is built, is one of the 3D manufacturing processes that are the the epitome of “game changer” according to Hod Lipson or Cornell University.
In his National Academy of Engineering article , Lipson explains, “Industrial revolutions are triggered when a fundamental cost associated with production drops to zero, essentially taking that factor out of the cost equation.” going on to reference steam engines triggering the Industrial Revolution and the internet triggering an information revolution. His study found, “…in stark contrast to conventional manufacturing where every additional hole, surface, protrusion, and corner requires more planning, takes longer to produce, and consumes more energy and possibly more raw material, the marginal cost of added complexity with additive manufacturing [3D printing] is near zero.” Bringing the cost of complexity to zero is what makes 3D printing so revolutionary.
Finding a DMLS Applications Specialist to Help Your Business Harness Zero-Cost Complexity
One of the challenges to realizing the full benefits of DMLS for most businesses is Designing-for-3D and shifting the design and engineering mindset towards 3D printing where it makes the most sense. Lipson points out, ” Over and over
again, I have seen students faced with the blank page of CAD and the unlimited capability of a 3D printer design rectangular objects with a few linear notches. The last step will blur the line between material and code leading to essentially
programmable matter.” 3D Manufacturers play a critical role in bridging this design gap. The best match is a DMLS provider that not only takes a 3D file and prints it, but first looks at the geometry, the material available, and the goals of the part and verifies the printability and cost effectiveness of a DMLS methodology, makes recommendations on design and and manufacturing efficiencies, and is transparent on the post process requirements. i3D MFG™ is one of several DMLS manufacturers in teh United States that offers this service model and was recently named the EOS (the leading DMLS OEM) Material Process Applications (MPA) partner.