Additive Manufacturing

JAN 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.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 13 of 43

JANUARY 2018 Additive Manufacturing 12 TAKING SHAPE The Post-Production Challenge for Additive Manufacturing Incodema3D's shop floor and adjacent office spaces. While Incodema3D works across numerous AM platforms and mate- rials, it specializes in direct metal printing for prototypes and production quantities of parts. Companies in the aerospace sector represent Incodema3D's primary customers, followed by the defense and energy industries as well as motorsports and medical. End-to-end, single-source production of high-value functional AM parts is still out of reach for many manufacturers due to the multiple steps this might require. But Inco- dema3D—a growing, full-service AM manufacturer based in Ithaca, New York—is not like most manufacturers. Its story exemplifies not only AM's emergence beyond rapid prototyping, but also serves as yet another roadmap for the ways and means by which a more traditional manufacturer can enter the market. The challenge, according to Incodema3D founder and CEO Sean Whittaker, "was to figure out AM's puzzle." The company, housed in a spotless and sprawling 60,000-square-foot facility in Freeville, New York, works across numerous AM platforms and materials, but specializes in direct metal printing for prototypes and production quantities of parts, primarily for the aerospace sector. In 2015, Incodema3D owned four metal AM machines. Today, just three years later, that num- ber is 15 AM machines and 25 postprocessing CNC machines. The company aims to be the country's preeminent production contract manufacturer in the additive space. But Incodema3D, both as a concept and a company, wouldn't work as a stand-alone. Since the parts it prints are usually high-value-adds—a 3D-printed circuit board heatsink for a jet, for example—they're typically quite expensive. With that, Whittaker explains, if Incodema3D were to print a part, and then contract with another shop or send it back to the aero OEM to finish processing and machining, and suddenly there's a problem with the part, "that's where the finger pointing begins," he says. "If you don't have a cohesive supply chain set up, and someone tells you the part wasn't printed properly, the process doesn't work." Instead, Incodema3D is the newest of four companies that compose The Incodema Group, which Whittaker founded in 2001 after working for years as a mechanical en- gineer at NCR Corp. While he had been introduced to stereolithography in the 1980s, Whittaker's engineering experience was steeped in traditional manufacturing methods. In fact, it was Whittaker's innovation that sped up the design and manufacturing of parts produced from sheet metal that allowed him to begin the original Incodema, which today still serves as a sheet metal prototyping company that employs laser and water-jet cutting, sheet-metal stamping, CNC machining, and other traditional manu- facturing processes for the automotive and biomedical industries. In other words, Incodema3D represents the last piece of that complex AM puzzle. Each of the other three pieces—Incodema, Engineering Manufacturing Technologies (a production metalworking facility in nearby Endicott), and Newcut Photo Chem- ical Etching (seemingly an outlier, this company employs photochemical milling to improve surfaces on AM parts)—could and did operate successfully as part of the col- lective without the addition of the last puzzle piece. On the other hand, Incodema3D is able to meet its promise of being a single-source producer of functional AM parts—and By Brent Donaldson

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Additive Manufacturing - JAN 2018