For reaching cruising speed, additive manufacturing first requires a cultural change in industry, which must be able to discern its short- and long-term benefits. Moreover, the technology must be implemented with a strategic perspective to achieve innovative and efficient solutions for the users.
To talk about the future of this technology in Spain, we convened Innoday 2017 in Madrid last October the 18th. The event, jointly organised with Dassault Systèmes, discussed the current status of additive manufacturing and its 5-year expectations.
The speakers provided a wide range of views about the topic, but in one way or another they all reached the conclusion that a cultural change is required. In this sense the first talk, by Santiago Martín (INTA/EDDM), was clear and conclusive: “It is not possible to design for additive manufacturing using machining criteria.
This technology allows solving production problems experienced by traditional processes, but success requires being conversant with the various technologies, materials and design methodologies.”
The great revolution is that, according to Daniel Pyzak (Dassault Systèmes), “it is now possible to manufacture perfectly functional products anywhere in the world”. Unfortunately, in Spain, “there are only a few companies implementing the technology. They have problems seeing the benefits that can be reaped in the medium term and delay the investment until it is more widespread”, as mentioned by Joseba Sagarna (Addimen).
The benefits of additive manufacturing are numerous: smaller stocks, faster delivery, manufacturing prototypes and tools, savings when producing short series, materials savings, and many more.
Additive manufacturing must be integrated with the rest of industrial processes: “it is not an island”, as stated by Iñigo Bereterbide (Renishaw). “The real jump will take place when it becomes suitable for mass production”.
Ángel Llavero (Sicnova 3D) explained the roles of hardware, software and materials in the new generation of 3D printing machines coming to the market.
The design software plays a fundamental role in these developments. Generative functional design is another relevant factor in pre-manufacturing phases: in this new concept, starting from a design space with functional restrictions, a parametric optimisation produces design concepts that already incorporate the manufacturing process. Using solutions of this type integrated in the 3DExperience platform of Dassault Systèmes, the aeronautical industry is reducing weights while maintaining stiffnesses, with all the associated benefits.
Based on his experience, Jeroen Vermeulen (ATOS) highlighted the advantages of additive manufacturing regarding optimisation. “It is possible to obtain a 70% reduction in mass by topological optimisation, followed by those of shape/form and manufacturing. In this way, savings are significant and lasting”.
The health sector is one of those with greater growth potential, said Ignacio Corrido (Comher): “The current European market revolves around titanium at an industrial level, but it is really in the heath sector where the potential time and money savings are enormous and worth the investment”.
Jaume Homs (HP) talked about HP’s bid to enter the manufacturing market rather than that of 3D printing, as there is a huge potential for supplying machines for manufacturing. Their goal is “to increase the production rate, with keen prices, while maintaining or even improving quality”.
It is also very important to count on adequate tools to simulate the manufacturing process with the existing technologies.
Pauline Pfirrmann (Dassault Systèmes) explained the functionalities of “Additive Manufacturing Researcher”, the new 3DExperience role that offers an integrated design and manufacturing environment to simulate the manufacturing process.
Alberto Echevarría (IK4-Lortek), director of one of the technological centres with greater involvement in additive manufacturing, claimed that there is a need “to standardize to take advantage of the digital chain, as this technology is digital, disruptive and intense in engineering; otherwise we will lose the advantages that it offers”. Using simulation tools, it would be possible to expedite many processes and simplify the implementation of the technology. Among other things, it would make it possible to predict and control distortions.
Elisa Mª Ruiz Navas, a researcher at the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid, reflected on the scant attention usually dedicated to one of the key ingredients in additive manufacturing, namely metallic powders, and discussed their various properties, which are essential in the manufacturing process.
Finally, Jean-François Maizière (Dassault Systèms) presented Market Place, which connects a certified proposal (engineering consultants, printing firms) and a demand. He closed by summarising the challenges and opportunities faced by additive manufacturing and explaining how Dassault Systèmes’ 3DExperience offers the users a collaborative environment for their development.