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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.


By i3d

Current Trends In The Additive Manufacturing Industry

Wohlers Associates sends a survey to service providers each year to help identify trends in the additive manufacturing (AM) service industry.

The 2015 survey asked for information about the respondents’ experiences in the calendar year 2014. (The 2014 survey was for 2013 calendar year.) The number of respondents continues to increase almost every year. This year, 87 service providers in 23 countries participated, with 38 from the U.S., eight from Germany, five from Canada, four from Australia, three each from China, France, India, and Italy, two each from Belgium, England, Netherlands, Spain, and Turkey, and one each from Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and Thailand.

For 2015, the survey focused on the following areas as it relates to service providers in the Additive Manufacturing (DMLS) industry:

  • Primary Business focus
  • Secondary Business focus
  • Additive manufacturing services
  • Direct part production
  • Other services
  • Industries served
  • Equipment used
  • System performance

The report has some great comments by the industry respondents which really summarizes where the industry is at the moment.  One thing that stands out is the ups and downs as indicated by these two comments:

Excellent growth in 2014—we almost doubled our sales. Thanks to all who work and contribute to our industry.

We believe our rapid prototyping business declined because customers added capabilities in-house and reduced outsource business.

Market demand increased sharply in 2014. More and more end users began to try to use AM technology to solve their machining problem. Some end users began to design parts for manufacturing using AM technology. We certainly believe 2015 will much better than 2014.

Most of the service providers that responded to the survey had a positive year in 2014, in both the primary and secondary revenue streams. Based on this data and their comments, we believe the majority is in relatively good financial health when the survey was conducted in early 2015. As a whole, they are growing, and growth in 2014 continued a positive trend that began in 2010 after two years of decline.

Read the full report here in our DMLS resource library.

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 i3d

I3DMFG DMLS Resource Library

Introducing Our DMLS Resource Library

I3D MFG™ has put together an online DMLS resource library for anyone that wants to learn more about the industry, materials used, and actual case studies of DMLS in action.  Here is what you will find in our library.

  Read more


By i3d

3D Printed Rocket Parts? Yes!

Are companies successfully making 3D printed rocket parts?  As the 3D metal printing industry continues to mature using technologies like Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) for bridge manufacturing using metals such as Inconel and Titanium, there has been an uptick in the number of successful 3D printed rocket parts.

  Read more

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.

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DMLS Warheads
New Case Studies: Additive Manufacturing (DMLS) Optimization Warheads And Aircraft Wings
3D Printed Rocket Parts? Yes!
Inserts and Complex Lattice Geometries
3D Printing Survey Points To Strong Demand For Investors