Additive Manufacturing

SEP 2018

ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING is the magazine devoted to industrial applications of 3D printing and digital layering technology. We cover the promise and the challenges of this technology for making functional tooling and end-use production parts.

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Page 7 of 43

SEPTEMBER 2018 Additive Manufacturing Something to Add 6 From Functional Parts to Lots of Functional Parts Additive manufacturing at produc- tion scale is coming. What scale, specifically? We will see. But the belief that AM is for production of only low- quantity runs seems as though it might be the latest assumption about additive that will need to give way. Tech- nologies for fast and repeatable 3D printing appropriate to volume production have appeared and are now finding their places, and we cover various examples in this issue. Assumptions giving way have marked the story of 3D print- ing so far. First, there was the assumption that 3D printing is only for prototyping. The term "additive manufacturing" had yet to be coined. Then there was the assumption that additive technologies can make functional tooling such as molds, but offer a poor choice for end-use parts. Now, an assumption still current realizes AM can indeed make end-use parts, but is appropriate for parts only at low counts. At anything like production scale, some conventional process has to take over. This will be the next assumption to fall. Companies we cover in this issue already see as much. The Technology House, for example, has tracked the entire arc of these assumptions. Founded to provide prototypes via 3D printing, the company advanced from there into man- ufacturing, but not additive. It advanced instead by buying a machine shop. Now, with the adoption of Carbon's CLIP technology, plans to advance the machine shop are vying with the pursuit of production AM. Read the story on page 32. By contrast, 3DEO jumped onto the arc far along. This company has aimed at production from the start. Making production-scale parts additively proved so promising, 3DEO believed its best way forward was to keep its special AM platform in-house, providing part-making services as that plat- form's sole user. See page 28. Then there is HP. The steel part on our cover was made on HP's new Metal Jet 3D printer, which the company will have debuted by the time you read these words. Additive manufac- turing—and AM specifically for production—is "the biggest long-term bet HP is making," says company 3D Printing President Stephen Nigro. Read about it on page 24. What other assumptions about additive are being har- bored still? One might be that the part ought to be ready for finishing or assembly as soon as it comes out of the printer. In the case of each of the production technologies covered in this issue, the next stop after 3D printing is an oven or furnace for curing or sintering the part. Stephanie Hendrixson and I wrote these articles, and neither of us aimed for an "oven" theme, but that is the way the issue came together. That commonality among these stories is perhaps a meaningful clue. One way to realize a productive, cost-effective AM process is to let the forming of the part and the curing of the material occur in separate steps within separate stations. Not every AM process being applied to production makes this separation, but it might be that the presence of ovens and the development of oven technology will prove instrumental to AM. Noticing clues—that is where AM has us right now. That's what we need to keep doing. AM is so new, and we are still so young in understanding it, that we don't yet know where it will lead. AM as a potential means of volume production is so new that the possibility is barely here. So we are, all of us, still prone to fail in our imagining. There is ever the danger of assuming too soon that we have AM technology all figured out, that the bounds of AM's progress are in sight. All we can do is watch, taking care to be wary of the hype, of course, but also taking care not to trust too fully in the certainty of our current assumptions. Stick with us (visit to renew your subscription) and let's keep on watching. Let's keep on questioning our assumptions together. The assumption that additive is only for low-volume manufacturing is about to give way. Here are companies preparing for larger scales. Peter Zelinski / EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

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