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Additive Manufacturing News

By i3d

U.S. Air Force General Proclaims Additive Manufacturing As A Massive Game Changer

Additive Manufacturing (DMLS) has been a rising trend that has the potential to revolutionize nearly everything we manufacture from human organs to mechanical components to firearm parts.

General Ellen Pawlikowski, Commander of the Air Force Material Command, compared the importance of additive manufacturing to other game-changing technologies like hypersonics, directed energy, and autonomy, stating,

“If you were to ask me what’s the fourth game changer, in my mind it’s additive manufacturing.”

I3D MFG agrees with these statements as they have been at the forefront of this  game-changing technology for nearly two years now, producing some of the most complex and revolutionary parts for their aerospace, firearms, heat exchanger and thruster clients

For the Air Force, these types of 3D metal parts, including flexible electronics, sensors, fuzes, energetics and warheads, help AFRL achieve the longer-term goal of using technologies like DMLS to rapidly prototype advanced capabilities for warfighters.

Dr. Amanda Schrand, principal investigator for FLEGOMAN at the AFRL/RW stated,

“We are maturing additive manufacturing to address technical challenges in fuze technology and ordnance sciences to increase the lethality of small weapons, and enable modular and flexible weapons. We also hope to decrease the time it takes to refresh critical components as well as decrease the cost to produce a weapon and its components. We are currently focusing on additively manufacturing survivable fuze electronics such as detonators, switches, capacitors and traces, leveraging the expertise of our colleagues at the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, Sensors Directorate, Air Force Institute of Technology and Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center. Additionally, we are developing tailorable, lightweight, cellular warhead cases and structural reactive materials that offer strength and energy on demand. Finally, we are exploring ways to improve energetic materials by printing them rather than pouring them.”

I3D MFG, is able to use their experience and engineering to design, recommend,  and produce advanced metal components using additive manufacturing (DMLS) in order to fuel the next-generation of 3D metal printing techniques.

By i3d

PiperJaffray Report: Metal 3D Printing A Bright Spot In The 4th Quarter

PiperJaffray released the results of their 4th Quarter 3D Printing Survey which can be found in our Library.  Please download it and read the entire article as it’s a great deep dive into the current and future state of 3D metal printing.

What they found for the 4th quarter was an indication that system demand remained challenged from the 3rd quarter.  As it turns out, PiperJaffray believes that Q4 and 2015 turned out to be challenging for the entire industry as a whole as users digested excess capacity which had built up over the years.

They also believe poor macro and FX conditions, as well as vertical specific headwinds in the Oil and Gas industry, played a role in the disappointing year for many 3D printing companies.

Though the data looks a bit discouraging in the report, it is encouraging to hear from industry contacts that interest and demand is beginning to reaccelerate for 3D technologies and they believe pipelines are strong heading into 2016. PiperJaffrays believes this is evident by the accelerating 1-year growth expectations from both Stratasys and 3D system resellers.

All in all, as the report points out, industry experts believe it will take additional quarters to get through some of the headwinds affecting companies in 2015, but are optimistic we will see a turning point in the second half of 2016.

Access the report here to see a full industry breakdown with insights and analysis.

By i3d

3D Metal Printing (Additive Manufacturing) Gives The Ability To Create The Nearly Impossible: With Limitations

Marc Saunders, Director – Global Solutions Centres at Renishaw, recently discussed how Additive Manufacturing (AM), a specifically 3D metal printing, can give us the ability to create components from designs that would be nearly impossible to produce conventionally.

As he points out, it’s not as simple though as having “unfettered freedom” to do whatever we want.  There are capabilities and limitations.

Mr. Saunders does a great job pointing out some key design considerations for laser melted metal parts. Here’s a few he points out:

  • Feature Size
  • Surface Finish
  • Overhangs
  • Lateral holes
  • Minimizing supports
  • Residual stress and distortion

Give the article a read in order to get the details on these key considerations.  As Marc point out,

“AM gives us huge freedom to design parts differently, but we do need to be aware of some of the characteristics and limitations of the process, so that we create parts that can be built successfully.

The DfAM rules described above are not too onerous in practice, and actually encourage us to consider ways to make parts that are lighter, faster to build, and more cost-effective.

Modern design and build preparation software helps enormously to find an optimum design, orientation and support strategy so that we can produce consistent parts economically. “


By i3d

3D Printing Is Here To Stay

In a recent article in the Dayton Business Journal, a good friend of ours, Chris Collins, published an article all about keeping Dayton ahead of the technology curve and one of the things leading that curve is 3D printing.

The article discusses the fact that Dayton has always been seen as somewhat of a declining economy with the downfall of the automotive industry but in fact it’s actually a hotbed for the manufacturing industry.  Dayton also happens to have one of the most cutting-edge research and development facilities in the United States at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, which has initiatives in place to offer the local economy vendor priority.

In the article, Chris discusses why Additive Manufacturing is the next big industrial revolution and he want to help put Dayton right in the epicenter that revolution.

To really help put something behind that statement he uses the example of how NASA sends 3D printing files to the International Space Station where they can print them out for research and testing purposes.  No needing to make something, package it, then ship it.  Additive Manufacturing cuts out so many inefficient processes that it just makes sense to become the next revolution in the industrial/manufacturing world and all the way down to the consumer market.

Collins then hypothesizes that some day we won’t even need to ship any longer and in fact, when we buy certain products we will get them specifically made for our own personal selves instead of the generic “S-M-L-XL”.

He finishes by saying, “Make Dayton the place to go for everything 3D printing. Because you had better believe if we don’t adopt it, someone else will, if they haven’t already.”

This is certainly true about the entire Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) industry and it’s also true that it is not a fad or a trend, it’s hear to stay and it’s changing lives everyday even if you don’t realize it.


DMLS Warheads

By i3d

New Case Studies: Additive Manufacturing (DMLS) Optimization Warheads And Aircraft Wings

We have added two new case studies to our DMLS Resource Library.  Major David Liu and others at the Airforce Institute of Technology (AFIT) have published groundbreaking studies based on Additive Manufacturing (DMLS) optimization of aircraft wings and lattice-reinforced penetrative warheads.

Topology Optimization Of An Aircraft Wing

For the additive manufacturing industry and specifically DMLS aircraft printing, this is a very important study.  Here’s the summary from the white paper which can be found here in our library:

Topology optimization was conducted on a three-dimensional wing body in order to enhance structural performance and reduce overall weight of the wing. The optimization was conducted using commercial software on an aircraft wing with readily available schematics, allowing a stress and displacement analysis. Optimizations were accomplished with an objective of minimizing overall compliance while maintaining an overall design-space volume fraction of less than 30 percent. A complete wing segment was post processed and 3D printed. Future analysis involves the optimization of a complete wing body with comparison to the baseline structure. The resulting designs will be 3D printed and wind-tunnel tested for process verification. A design will also be manufactured using metallic additive manufacturing techniques as a proof of concept for future aircraft design. The final optimized solution is expected to provide a weight savings between 15 and 25 percent.


Topology Optimization of Additively-Manufactured, Lattice-Reinforced Penetrative Warheads

A second case study along with a great presentation by Captain Hayden K. Richards and Major David Liu discusses the groundbreaking effect of DMLS on lattice-reinforced warheads. Penetrative warheads, characterized by massive, strong, and tough solid cylindrical cases with ogive noses, are generally manufactured using traditional techniques such as subtractive fabrication processes. In these processes, material is removed from pre-formed solid masses to produce simple shapes.

Recently, the development of sophisticated additive manufacturing (AM) machines, known colloquially as 3D printers, has revolutionized the process of building metal parts.

Visit our library for access to these incredible studies which help to reinforce the growing use of DMLS in critical industries such as aerospace and firearms.

By Erin Stone

Can 3D Metal Printed Rocket Parts Hold Up To Stress Tests?

As part of it’s AR1 booster engine project, Aeroject Rocketdyne put some 3D printed rocket parts under fire. The parts were subjected to a round of hot-fire tests in preparation for an AR1 engine production by 2019.  Can 3D Printed parts hold up to such strenuous and exhaustive testing?

A little background.  Aerojet Rocketdyne is currently developing the AR1 for full production.  The AR1 is a 500,000 lb thrust-class liquid oxygen/kerosene booster engine which is an American-made alternative to the likes of the Russian built RD-180.   Aerojet is preparing for the replacement of the RD-180 due to a new rule from the National Defense Authorization Act which was enacted in 2015 that calls for the replacement of the RD-180 for “national security space launches by 2019.”

Due to the function of a booster engine, these types of tests come at an important time for 3D metal printed parts.  The industry is experiencing significant growth in the use of Inconel and Titanium metal powder printing which has yielded incredible results in not only the aerospace industry but in the firearms and medical industries as well.

In order to bring the AR1 to market by 2019, testing has to begin now and it’s an incredible amount of heat and stress they are placing these 3D metal printed parts under. The motivation for these hot-fire tests was an evaluation of various main injector element designs and fabrication methods.

A few of the injectors were fabricated using Selective Laster Melting (SLM) and Aerojet has invested heavily into the use of SLM capabilities for rocket engine applications.

Aerojet Rocketdyne fully believes that the AR1 single-element hot-fire tests are the highest pressure hot-fire tests (over 2,000 psi) of a 3D metal printed part in rocket engine application.  Because of the success of these tests, Aerojet Rocketdyne says that 3D metal printing will account for a potential 70% reduction in cost for production of the main injector, and a possible nine-month reduction in part lead times.

So. Can 3D metal printed rocket parts hold up to extreme stress testing? Yes!  And this is just the beginning of an upward trend as 3D metal printing using Inconel, Titanium, and Maraging Steel see massive success in other large industries such as firearms and medical.  Stay tuned for your next 3D printed car….

Inserts and Complex Lattice Geometries

By i3d

3D Printing Survey Points To Strong Demand For Investors

There continues to be strong demand for the 3D printing and additive manufacturing industry, as pointed out in a recent report from market research leaders PiperJaffray. The research included 79 industry respondents and revealed why they feel bullish on 3D printing and additive manufacturing as a continued growth market for investors.

Here are some of the results of the research which clearly shows that 3D printing and additive manufacturing is a growth industry for investors and also an increasing entry point for new resellers.

Reseller Composition

Over the past year there has been a sizable increase in the number of resellers that have been operating in the 3D printing/additive manufacturing space for less than five years.  This shows a strong growing demand for 3D printing and related service delivery.  A lot of this demand and growth comes from new respondents to the research which reveals they are Stsratasys (SSYS) resellers.  Stratasys is seeing massive growth in the number of people reselling their 3D printing/additive manufacturing equipment and that has a direct correlation to the growing demand for the related services.

Other resellers such as EOS also reported growth, however, they tend to take a more direct approach without relying too heavily on resellers.

In the attached report (PDF), PiperJaffray outlines all of the detailed market signals which point to their bullish recommendation for investors looking at the 3D printing industry.

Service Data Points To Strong 2015

New customers needing 3D printing/additive manufacturing services tend to utilize service providers instead of investing in their own equipment and this trend will persist for the foreseeable future as more and more companies leverage the technology.

In Q4, total growth expectations increased 4 percentage points to 17% which represents a slight uptick from Q3, believed to be due to companies seeing the cost and manufacturing benefits of 3D printing.

Final Thoughts

Due to the increasing reseller demand for 3D printing systems from manufacturers, more companies leveraging 3D printing, better throughputs, better materials and quicker-to-market finish times, market research leaders PiperJaffray feel that the 3D printing/additive manufacturing industry is bullish for investors.  Read the full PiperJaffray report, “Q4 3D Printing Survey Points To Strong System Demand From SSYS Resellers” for the detailed analysis, data gathered, and respondent feedback.

By Erin Stone

DMLS Stands Out as 2015 Focal 3D Printing Technology

DMLS Stands Out as 2015 Focal 3D Printing Technology

What makes Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) a leading 3D printing technology in 2015? It’s not new news that DMLS prints metal 3D parts. Here are some new exciting new trends  that Steve Heller, 3D specialist for the Motley Fool found “incredible”:

  Read more

By Erin Stone

Heat Sinks are an Ideal DMLS Application

Heat Sinks are an Ideal DMLS Application

Conformal cooling channels manufactured out of 6061 Aluminum open up amazing possibilities for heat sink applications. Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) metal 3D printing cost effectively allows aerospace, oil & gas, and automotive engineers not only to easily manufacture cooling channels, but to produce conformal micro channels that traditional manufacturing cannot achieve. Since DMLS powder is a 6061 Aluminum equivalent, the thermal conductive properties are also well matched. With held tolerance’s off the machine of +/- .004 and a process that builds parts with highly complex internal geometries, compact heat sinks that maximize surface area and air flow are possible. DMLS melts metal powder layers together to nearly 100% density, also making these innovative heat sinks manufacturable using 3D metal printing.

Study Shows DMLS Most Effective Way to Produce Heat Sinks

A recent Plunkett Associates study looked at a variety of methods to build more efficient heat sinks and it concluded that, “The five best performing heat sinks were built using DMLS.”  They further concluded that all five cases showed a consistent heat source temperature when compared to traditional extruded and stamped 2D processes. A different IOP Science study examined the impact of DMLS surface roughness on heat sink performance and concluded, ” Our results offer an evidence of the possible impact of DMLS on electronic cooling since a 50% and 20% enhancement (compared to milled samples) is observed for flat and finned heat sinks, respectively… These results open the way for a huge boost in the technology of electronic cooling by DMLS.”

i3D MFG™ has produced several successful heat sink projects for a variety of aerospace and UAV companies using our DMLS Aluminum. In addition to the conformal cooling channels and the surface roughness advantages, client can also produce multiple designs on one build for testing and then come back and do production runs on the bets performing design. i3D™ also 3D prints in Titanium, Stainless Steel, Maraging Steel, and Inconel.

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%d bloggers like this:
U.S. Air Force General Proclaims Additive Manufacturing As A Massive Game Changer
DMLS Warheads
New Case Studies: Additive Manufacturing (DMLS) Optimization Warheads And Aircraft Wings
Inserts and Complex Lattice Geometries
3D Printing Survey Points To Strong Demand For Investors
DMLS Stands Out as 2015 Focal 3D Printing Technology
Heat Sinks are an Ideal DMLS Application