Despite its rapid growth in recent years, the Additive Manufacturing User Group is still just that: A user group of amazingly talented individuals with long experience with every aspect of the technology. It’s the reason we love being there.
So while we showed off our Manufacturing Execution System and 3Diax Modular Platforms in the Exhibits, we were keen to build on the ethos of AMUG during the sessions. The result was a roundtable on the challenges companies are experiencing while they seek to scale up their additive manufacturing operations. We act as organizers – the audience are the real star.
I do a lot of public speaking, and frankly – complete control via a prepared speech is a LOT less nerve-wracking than hoping that people participate. But we were not disappointed by the User Group; the collaborative nature of the event showed up in full force and thanks to the excellent moderation of Additive Manufacturing Media’s Editor-in-Chief, Pete Zelinski, came to highly productive uses.
So what were some of the topics people came up with?
Challenge: Multi-material, for example ABS infused with carbon, is becoming more prevalent, but the file definitions remain a major barrier. Line drawings certainly don’t do the trick anymore, especially as the complexity grows with deviations, infill requirements, orientation and more.
Comments: One participant suggested using XML structures attached to the geometry, while others referred to Model Based Design efforts that help to go beyond simple geometries and address scalability issues with the first suggestion through NIST-sponsored standardization.
Challenge: Despite the digital nature of AM, there are still significant challenges even in basic operations: How do we know when something is down? How do we include expected, predicted or current downtime in our schedules? How do we maintain throughput in a failure scenario?
Comments: This one was close to our own heart, Authentise’s MES was mentioned not just once in this context. In addition, participants pointed out that solutions go beyond data-driven scheduling software – they include additional sensors, machine learning to better predict run times, standarizing machine data access, furthering the use of augmented reality for machine maintainance and more.
Challenge: Lack of fully documented testing knowledge means we might be spending too much time and money testing, documenting, standardizing and more. How much testing is really necessary to make sure a part can fly.
Comments: Naturally, answers here differ by industry. They range from dozens of successful builds to just two. Standard practice seems to be freezing particular machine and locking in orientation, build plate setting and support. There was a vigorous exchange on these and other topics. Certainly, there were a lot of things we could have done better (like adding interactive voting tools, such as PollEverywhere), but the audience really took up the mantle; AMUG participants are collectively smarter than any speaker they could put up. Encouraging conversations about challenges and solutions is the best way to learn – for ourselves and for participants. We’ll certainly be back next year and build on this success.
This week we analyze how AM is broadening its own range of materials through innovative research and contributing to material research outside its own realm.
AM is greatly diversifying the choice of materials at its disposal, through material engineering or process improvements. New, super-stretchy polymers from SUTD promise a host of applications in flexible electronics and soft robots while a new microdroplets process from WSU allows for the manufacturing of structures with custom porosity and other properties. All the while, AM is the enabler of new bacteria processed, graphene-like materials.
As you can see, we’ve got a lot to cover!
New Elastomers Stretch 1100% for 3D Printing
Researchers have developed a family of elastomers that they believe are the most elastic to date [up to 1100%] and can be fabricated using 3D-printing technologies, making these useful materials more accessible for a range of applications from softrobots to flexibleelectronics. “The new elastomers enable us to directly print complicated geometric structures and devices–such as a 3D soft robotic gripper–within an hour,” said Qi Ge, an assistant professor at the SUTD’s DManD Centre, and a co-leader of the project.
[…] researchers from Washington State University (WSU) have developed a method which can print metal structures with complex 3D architectures, controlling details down to the nanoscale and closely mimicking the architecture of natural bio-materials like wood and bone. This technique is likely to find other applications in batteries, supercapacitors and biological scaffolds.
3D-printed bacteria could make bespoke graphene-like materials
How do you make a bespoke material with graphene-like properties? By putting bacteria to work using a 3D printer. Such bacteria could create brand new materials. For example, if you could use bacteria to print a substance resembling graphene – the 2D material made of single-atom layers of carbon – the end product might have similar desirable properties.
Authentise has a booth at AMUG 2017 and are also organizing a roundtable on process automation (see below). We’re looking for participants (people to get the conversation started, so please let us know if you’re interested.
Title: “Identifying & Solving Process Inefficiencies in AM” Moderator: Pete Zelinski, Editor in Chief of the Additive Manufacturing Magazine Time: Monday March 20, 3:30-4:30. Room: Continental B (Lobby Level) Content: This roundtable explores what inefficiencies additive manufacturing operations still exist and how they can be addressed. As additive technology enables more and more production use cases, it is becoming increasingly important improve the process: To reduce the latency of bringing a part to print, integrate the production into existing manufacturing processes, and eliminate manual steps from the process of preparing and making perfect parts, reliably. Nobody seems more excited or prepared to make this transition happen than operators, who have had to struggle with inefficiencies for decades. This roundtable taps that knowledge and helps exchange ideas of how manual processes can be automated and sidestepped. How to add serial numbers automatically, create cost benchmarks, know what is scheduled where, when the next available slot is, track traceability automatically and more.
We’re super excited to be a part of AMUG 2017, both as exhibitors and contributors. It’s always a great show.
The roundtable is titled “Identifying & SolvingProcessInefficiencies in AM”. The idea is to bring together a number of experts in polymer, metal and hybrid production who all have challenges as well as ticks and tricks about how to improve the process. This is a chance to exchange ideas. There is no panel, but we are ensuring active participation at the event by making sure that certain experienced professionals will be there to share ideas.
We’re really excited to be working with Peter Zelinski, the Editor-in-Chief of the Additive Manufacturing magazine, who will moderate the session. He wants to speak to as many professionals in advance as possible. Are you one of them? Get in touch.
Time: Monday March 20, 3:30-4:30. Room: Continental B (Lobby Level) Content: This roundtable explores what inefficiencies additive manufacturing operations still exist and how they can be addressed. As additive technology enables more and more production use cases, it is becoming increasingly important improve the process: To reduce the latency of bringing a part to print, integrate the production into existing manufacturing processes, and eliminate manual steps from the process of preparing and making perfect parts, reliably. Nobody seems more excited or prepared to make this transition happen than operators, who have had to struggle with inefficiencies for decades. This roundtable taps that knowledge and helps exchange ideas of how manual processes can be automated and sidestepped. How to add serial numbers automatically, create cost benchmarks, know what is scheduled where, when the next available slot is, track traceability automatically and more