The industries that use additive manufacturing with greater intensity are, ordered by percentage of introduction by market volume: industrial and automotive, aerospace, dental and medical, energy, defense and luxury goods. Specifically, the industrial and machinery sector represents 20% of the total.
In this post we show you the different examples of applications of additive manufacturing in this sector and we will analyze the reasons for your choice.
Repair and Manufacture of components
Repairing damaged components is an application area where additive manufacturing can demonstrate its strengths. Instead of having to dispose of a worn tool or part and replace it with a new one, damaged areas can be quickly repaired by direct deposition (techniques such as DED or WAAM). This allows manufacturers to benefit from a longer service life, also reducing operating costs. This example presented by Siemens shows what can be achieved in the manufacture and repair of gas turbine components.
Laser deposition (LDT) manufacturing or repair technologies encompass many processes with different designations, such as direct metal deposition (DMD) or laser metal deposition (LMD), which differ from standard welding or bonding processes that use lasers as a heat source, in that LDT is always adding new metal to an existing workpiece.
LDT can be used for a variety of repairs and freeform fabrications. It has a powerful ability to apply high-quality metallurgical deposits, which can be used to:
1) Repair of worn components
2) Free form manufacturing, making free form contributions directly from CAD files
3) Application of coating materials – Laser Coating Technology (LCT). Flexibility is an ingredient
key that guides this technology
Stainless steels, tool steels, nickel alloys, cobalt alloys, titanium alloys and a variety of coating alloys are some materials that are being successfully deposited. Some success is being achieved with aluminum, but usually aluminum and copper alloys are difficult to deposit due to their reflective properties. The high quality, versatility and flexibility of LDT tanks are the strengths of this technology.
Manufacture of valves, valve blocks, heat exchangers
In this application the main driver is the freedom of design, being able to have geometric shapes impossible to achieve with traditional machining. With this we achieve a reduction in weight, but the focus is on the improved functionality. Achieving better fluid flow that optimizes and extends the operation of valve blocks, or maximizes the efficiency of heat exchangers, is vital. And we can achieve this by designing curved internal channels that follow the result of a fluid-dynamic optimization study.
In the image, hydraulic collector redesigned and manufactured in 3D to improve its efficiency, by Aidro.
Additionally, we can combine several parts into one, we can reduce the weight or volume of components and 3D printing can be more economical for small production volumes or medium complex hydraulic components. Also, we can substantially reduce production times. The challenges lie in the inspectionability, the post-processing of internal structures and certification.
Manufacture of moulds and models
The application of 3D printing in molding or casting manufacturing has been widespread for some time, for example, for the manufacture of models in casting casting.
In recent years, it is increasingly also being used in the manufacture of molds, either partially, as in highly complex cores or in injection or cooling channels, or in the complete mold. This is due to the advantage it offers of less manual assembly in the foundry, and the possibility of building geometries with lower geometric restrictions. The decrease in delivery times is also a very important factor when contemplating the alternative of additive manufacturing for this application, and the possibility of achieving cheaper solutions (although of less durability) can be very convenient for not very long manufacturing series.
In the example presented below, the delivery time of the molded parts was reduced from 6 months to 6 weeks. The convenience of the final price per piece is given by the number of units to be manufactured.
For example, manufacture of tools for positioning, assembly or verification operations, providing substantial improvements in delivery time, customization, weight reduction or ergonomic improvement, as the example developed by Optimus3D.
Another interesting application is the custom manufacture of custom jaws, packaging for fragile products or critical components, or automated equipment terminations or robotic arms that are perfectly adapted to the desired functionality.