Additive Manufacturing: Cost-effective manufacturing with 3D printing

Made News

Despite Made in Group members Tri-Tech 3D believing that 3D printing is, ‘Yet to be considered a ‘mainstream technology’ to be fully realised,’ Adrian Painter, Group Director believes that forward-thinking organisations who are making use of Additive Manufacturing (AM) can have a cost-effective way to 3D print.

What may surprise you about 3D printing is that it’s not a technology of the ‘Noughties’ or the ‘Tweenies’, but actually has its history dating back over 30 years, back to the 1980s, and Charles Hull, who developed the first 3D printing technology Stereolithography (SLA). Yet, it wasn’t until 1989 when we began to see what we consider to be 3D printing today when Scott Crump developed FDM, a technology better known as Fused Deposition Modelling.

But what is Additive Manufacturing, and how can it be a cost-effective way to 3D print? While traditional manufacturing methods will involve a material being carved, or shaped, into the desired product by parts of it being removed in a variety of ways, Additive Manufacturing is the exact opposite. Here, structures are made by the addition of thousands of minuscule layers which combine to create the final product.

Within the manufacturing industry, it has a wide range of uses including a variety of metals - such as Steel, Stainless Steel, Titanium, Gold and Silver - Thermoplastics, Medical and biochemical materials, glass, and even chocolate!

Talking about the history of 3D printing, Adrian stated that within the manufacturing industry while “3D printing was originally very much associated with prototyping, 3D printing has crossed that divide for many, whereby it has become another tool on the factory floor and considered alongside other methods for the end part production.”

The technology itself had been, “Weighted towards low run, or bespoke needs, and the ability to design outside the usual constraints of traditional manufacturing.” What Additive Manufacturing gives manufacturers is, “Flexibility in reducing weight and printing parts that otherwise couldn’t be made. We’re seeing many manufactures today re-designing for Additive Manufacturing and many are seeing cost savings and/or competitive advantage over their industry rivals.”

Asked if manufacturers should be concerned with 3D printing and the risk of automation, Adrian is a firm believer that the technology is not something that can damage the industry, but instead, become another tool in the toolkit of manufacturers around the country. 

Speaking about the risks, he said that; “It - 3D printing - can aid the need for localised manufacturing and just in time (LEAN processing) to reduce the need to carry high inventory and associated storage costs. Additive Manufacturing also provides the option to make complex parts in one, rather than assembling from multiple components. As an example, tool guides, jigs/fixings and composite layup tools are amongst the added functionality we see customers utilising 3D printing for.”

Founded in 2007, TrTri-Tech 3D was acquired by the Stanford Marsh Group in January 2017. They offer the complete range of Stratasys Polyjet & FDM 3D printing technologies, as well as acting as resellers for Desktop Metal systems. They provide service from advice on initial specification and supply of 3D printing hardware to on-site installation, staff training and on-going product support to a range of different industries, including the Automotive, Aerospace, Animation, general Manufacturing and many more!

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