Technology is moving at a kaleidoscopic pace. Almost every day we come across new technologies coming up. Among the state-of-the-art technologies is Additive Manufacturing. This technology is used extensively in various industries including aviation, automobile, pharmaceutical, etc. Article by Arijit Nag
The standard official term for Additive Manufacturing (AM) is ASTM F2792 for all its applications of the technology. AM is described as a process of conjoining various materials to produce objects from 3D model data, generally, layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies.
The terminology, Additive Manufacturing, is perfectly suitable to define the technologies that produce 3D objects by adding layer-upon-layer of material, whether it is plastic, metal, concrete or, perhaps, some day even human tissue.
AM uses data from computer-aided-design (CAD) software or 3D object scanners to channelize hardware to deposit material, layer upon layer, in precise geometric shapes. As its name suggests, additive manufacturing adds material to create an object.
It’s needless to say that AM technologies use computer, 3D modelling software (Computer Aided Design or CAD), machine equipment and layering material. Once a CAD sketch is drawn, the AM equipment collates the data from the CAD file and enjoins successive layers of liquid, powder, sheet material or anything else, in a layer-upon-layer fashion to fabricate a 3D object.
The process of Additive Manufacturing encompasses multiple technologies which include subsets like 3D Printing, Rapid Prototyping (RP), Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM), layered manufacturing and additive fabrication. This state-of-the art manufacturing process adheres to a technique by which digital 3D design data is applied to build or produce a component in layers by depositing material. Instead of shaping or designing a workpiece from a solid block, AM develops components layer upon layer using materials available in the form of fine powder and also liquid.
AM applications are infinite. Initially, AM was used in the form of Rapid Prototyping stressed on preproduction visualisation models. Lately, AM has also started being applied to fabricate end-use products in aircraft, dental restorations, medical implants, automobiles as well as fashion products.
Fundamentally, there is not much difference between 3D printing and Additive Manufacturing, as both the terms designate the process of creating an object by adding material. They resemble the exact same processes: layer-based manufacturing techniques. These appellations can very well be used interchangeably.
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where the technology was actually invented, numerous projects exist for supporting a wide range of forward-thinking applications from multi-structure concrete to machines that can build other machines.
Some envision AM as complementary to foundational subtractive manufacturing (removing material like drilling them out) and to lesser extent forming (like forging). However, AM can provide both consumers and professionals alike, the access to create, customise and/or repair products, thereby, redefining the current production technology
Simultaneously, high-cost A is increasingly being used in demanding applications such as to produce structural aerospace components.
Within the industry, the two technologies are frequently seen as being distinctly different. However, technological developments are increasingly blurring the demarcations. For instance, high-strength 3D-printed plastic being used for non-structural aircraft components, and consumer-grade desktop 3D printers producing relatively high-strength carbon-fibre-reinforced parts.
The perception regarding these two technologies is often focused on just two of the most common processes, which to a certain extent represent the extremes of low cost on one hand and high strength on the other. At the low-cost end of the spectrum, material extrusion, or fused deposition modelling (FDM), dominates the 3D-printing space. This process melts and forced out as a thermoplastic filament through a nozzle. As a result, FDM 3D printers, which are designed for domestic use, are cheaply available for as little as a few hundred pounds and PLA filament costs less than £20/kg.
While at the other extreme, through the AM process powder bed fusion (PBF) can be used to fabricate components from aerospace alloys including titanium, aluminium and stainless steel, with high-quality microstructures comparable to forged components.
A minute focus on the extremes of these two technologies fudges the increasingly diverse range of processes now available. Additive Manufacturing, according to ISO 52900, is defined in seven broad categories of manufacturing processes:
According to a recent industry report, the cumulative revenues expected from the additive general industry and tooling market is likely to reach $5.48 billion by 2029, including a $1.6 billion annual revenue opportunity from AM hardware sales.
Additive Manufacturing is all set to become a central building block in the future of the manufacturing industry. In fact, it is already changing how products are designed and manufactured radically.
However, all said and done, AM’s progress still needs representatives across the manufacturing spectrum to fulfil its potential. New associations can stimulate fresh synergies.
The five major benefits of Additive Manufacturing one should take into consideration are:
One of the disadvantages of AM is high production cost. Using other techniques apart from Additive Manufacturing, parts can be made faster and hence the extra time can lead to higher costs. Also, post-processing is needed. Furthermore, surface finish and dimensional accuracy may be of low quality than other AM manufacturing methods.
Primarily, there are five major industries where the amazing capabilities of additive manufacturing have transformed production:
While Additive Manufacturing can save the aerospace industry time and money, it can also play a major role in saving human lives. According to SmarTech Markets, it is expected that AM will generate an expected revenue of $2.88 billion from 2015 to 2023. In the days to come, the medical industry can expect a future of nano-scale medicine and even complex printed organs through Additive Manufacturing.
Article by – Arijit nag
Arijit Nag is a freelance journalist who writes on various aspects of the economy and current affairs. Read more article of Arijit Nag
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