Traditional design processes don’t work with AM, so it’s changing (Authentise Weekly News-In-Review – Week 81)

We’ve set up our design process to be efficient and reliable for the tools at our disposal, and with 3D printing, it’s about time to shake it up. 3D printing is inherently different from traditional manufacturing techniques and, to explore its true potential, we need to rely on design tools that help us explore new directions. Sandia Labs argues that this technology doesn’t plug easily into established production methodologies, both in terms of speed and how the variables involved impact the parts. The different features of a 3D printed part are a challenge for precision manufacturing lines. Apart from industrial compatibility issues, to see where we can push 3D printing we need to think outside the box. Concepts like 4D manufacturing help us envision what we can achieve with the technology, with parts that react to temperature, light or mechanical changes. This is nothing new in and of itself, but it’s been explored through 3D printing and it’s empowered design capabilities. We are already on the right track to reinvent the design process through smart digital tools, like generative design and quick iterative cycles, and the future looks exciting.

Sandia Labs Focused on Optimizing Design for 3D Printing

3D printing is capable of streamlining both design and production processes, but most designers (and many design tools) aren’t really prepared to take advantage of the design possibilities the technology presents. Traditional design methods applied to additive manufacturing don’t necessarily lead to fully optimized designs. Sandia National Laboratories’ Laboratory Directed Research and Development project hopes to point the industry in the right direction.

According to Sandia, the project focused on “how to put less precise 3D printed parts together with precise tools, taking advantage of the rapid prototyping, design and manufacturing possible with additive manufacturing.”

Read the full article here.

MIT engineers create 3D-printed magnetic shape-shifters

Engineers from MIT have designed soft, 3D-printed structures that can transform their shape “almost instantaneously” with the wave of a magnet. The magnetically manipulated objects are made using a type of 3D-printable ink developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which has been infused with tiny magnetic particles.

Read the rest here.

Autodesk University: How is Generative Design used Within Additive Manufacturing?

With a keenness to learn more about how design processes can affect AM end-production, 3D Printing Industry attended Autodesk University’s industrial talk entitled “Generative Design: Past, Present, and Future”. This lecture was led by Autodesk’s Principal Technical Consultant Andrew Harris and Allin Groom a Research Engineer at Autodesk.

Read more at 3D Printing Industry.

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War stories from the AM Battlefield

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.

Authentise AMUG roundtable on challenges in additive
Authentise AMUG roundtable on challenges in Additive Manufacturing

So what were some of the topics people came up with?

Multi-material Documentation

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.

Managing Downtime

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.

Part Certification

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.