How Additive Manufacturing Works
How Additive Manufacturing works
The process is fast, accurate and cost-effective for the production of prototypes as well as series production parts which can be used for testing or as final production of batch components. Parts are manufactured without the financial or time costs required for conventional tooling.
Unlike conventional subtractive manufacturing, the parts are manufactured by fusing together very fine layers of metal powder using a focused laser beam. This powder bed fusion process can produce complex geometries which might not have been possible using traditional manufacturing techniques, such as undercuts, channels inside sections, internal voids and lattice structures for superior strength. The unused powder is removed and recycled for future use, making it both economical and environmentally friendly.
The AM produced parts are near net shape and go through final machining for the final tolerances. Finished parts are comparable to a good investment cast part and the mechanical properties of finished parts are equivalent to those of a cast or machined component. The process is not restrictive in its application and the components produced can be used in place of almost any conventionally manufactured part. The advantage of the process is that the more complex or feature rich the component, the more economical the process becomes. In a way, complexity is free!
What are the domains we are working for
The aerospace and defence industry is increasingly using additive manufacturing to reduce material costs, decrease labour content, and increase availability of parts at point of use, which may have a dramatic impact on the supply chain. There are many Aerospace and Defence companies which have deployed AM to create value through concept modelling, prototyping, tooling, and production of select end parts. While a few are using AM only for prototyping, others are using AM for short-run production.
We are helping these companies to explore the advances in AM technology and materials to help them move up the order to develop complex products with improved functionality, even new products altogether, without any major changes in their existing supply chain structures. We are already seeing an increased momentum in this space.
Another area that we cater to is the area of maintenance, repair, and overhaul through the possibilities for cost-effective distributed production enabled by AM. Demand-driven production of spares through AM could be relevant for low-volume, complex parts; spares for out-of-production legacy aircraft; or spares required at remote locations.
In the process we partner with aerospace companies, not only in designing and manufacturing but also in testing and validation and help them through the FAA and other industry certifications by providing them with all the relevant data during the trial and testing.
Like aerospace, Healthcare industry is driven by precision manufacturing of low volume but high value components. This is a tailor made area for additive manufacturing. At ATC, we work with doctors and medical institutions to provide them with state of the art 3D models which are derived from 2D diagnostic images such as MRI and CT scans. This helps the doctors to look at the patient and the surgery in a unique manner and plan their processes efficiently.
We also work closely with the doctors on each case to identify the need for special surgical tools, guides and customized implants for each patient. ATC is in the process of obtaining the FDA approval for the manufacturing of customized implants
We work with ever-demanding automotive industry to manufacture tooling and inserts for quick turnaround of mass manufactured components. Our designs encompass conformal cooling and are designed for optimal output. By building durable concept models, prototypes, tooling and low-volume production parts in-house, engineers and designers can work more iteratively, test more thoroughly and move confidently into production. By replacing expensive and lead-time critical CNC-milled parts with additive manufactured metal parts, you can dramatically reduce your production costs and lead time. The printed parts also perform better technically, weigh less, and are well suited for the production of complex bodies that, when using conventional metal-cutting processes, would be very difficult and costly to produce.
AM for tooling covers a range of applications, including tooling used in casting and machining processes, assembly jigs and fixtures, and custom medical guides. With such a broad range of applications, many industries have already embraced the use of AM for tooling, including automotive, aerospace and defense, industrial products, consumer products, and even health care. Materials currently in use for AM fabrication of tooling include plastics, rubber, composites, metals, wax, and sand. At Wipro3D we are focused on a range of areas supporting different industries.
Several processes involved in tooling can take advantage of ALM’s benefits:
i. Molding (blow, LSR, RTV, EPS, injection, paper pulp molds, soluble cores for hollow composite parts, fiberglass lay-up molds, etc…)
ii. Casting (investment, sand, spin, etc…)
iii. Forming (thermoforming, metal hydroforming, etc…)
iv. Machining, assembling and inspection (jigs, fixtures, modular fixtures, etc…)
v. Robotics end-effectors (grippers)
Oil and Gas
Wipro3D is also deeply involved with other industries. We work closely with Oil & Gas industry which demands components that can perform under extreme pressure and demanding work environments. Our design and performance section analyses the actual performance of existing components before suggesting changes in manufacturing process and alternate materials.
A potential example of this is in the repair of consumable mud pump components such as pistons and valves. These components are commodity items, often produced in low-cost regions such as China. As a result, the inventory carry-cost associated can be quite high due to Minimum Order Quantity requirements. Depending on the grade and quality, some of these consumable mud pump components have services life ranging from 200 hours to 600 hours. Because these components are in continuous use they need to be replaced every eight to 24 days. One reason for these components’ low service life is that they are constructed with low-carbon steel to reduce costs.
However, if these components could be prepared via additive manufacturing, using a more abrasive-resistant material such as Stellite 6 or Stellite 12, then it is possible to simultaneously reduce inventory carry costs and increase service life of these consumable components.