Start with 3D printing and drive on the growing market potential

Date: 07/04/2022

Off: MetalNews

Reading time: more than 5 minutes

This information session took place at Poly Products in Werkendam. The meeting was organized with the purpose of presenting the range of metal prints, opportunities and challenges. Based on some fascinating practical examples, presented by Flam3D members Buhlmann, Metal Technics 3D, Guaranteed and Materialize, visitors gained practical insight into the possibilities and uses of 3D printing. In addition, Flam3D provided an overview of the benefits and challenges of 3D printing.

Where do you start?

“The most common question when it comes to 3D printing is ‘where do you start’. And that’s not surprising, ”said Kris Binon, director Flam3D† “In terms of metal printing alone, there are already eighteen different technologies to choose from, and each technology has its own advantages and disadvantages. It immediately shows the complexity. Other challenges that prevent companies from starting with 3D printing are lack of business case, lack of knowledge in the organization and investment costs. That is why we arrange regular information meetings that provide insight into the aforementioned challenges. ”

Start with a business case

Companies considering getting started with 3D printing are wise to start by researching a business case, by Daniel Hoogstraate from Materialize as well. “It is in the nature of technicians to dive directly into technology, but we really have to start with the application. What does the piece need, can we create added value through 3D printing by, for example, adding extra functionalities, how many pieces do we need and is it interesting to 3D print from a price point of view? The answers to such questions quickly clarify whether 3D printing is the right production technology for a particular application. “

With 196 printers in nineteen countries, Materialize specializes in series production of small powder bed products. During the information session, Hoogstraate presented various examples of products that are now being manufactured using 3D metal printing, such as a seatpost construction from the bicycle brand Pinarello. The mass of the part, which was previously a molding, has been reduced from 80 grams to 35 grams thanks to 3D printing. Because the parts are printed in a batch and the design requires minimal finishing, the cost price is lower than before. A good example of the benefits of 3D printing.

Also look at finishing

Willem van Cauwenberge from Metal Technics 3D also supports the need to use 3D printing where it provides added value. And in order to arrive at a good business case, it is crucial that finishing is also carefully considered. “Finishing is often more expensive and more complex than the actual printing.” Metal Technics 3D printer with powder bed laser printers and shows some examples of cases where printed parts are combined with machining or metal plates during the information session. “Using any technology for which it is intended leads to new business cases,” says Van Cauwenberge.

Some examples of 3D-printed products: Glasses, a watch case, a bicycle part and a heat exchanger.

Different views on technology

Michiel de Bruijcker, director of Poly Products, adds: “In order to make a good business case, it is crucial that the product design is examined, whereby one must ask oneself: can we use 3D printing, create added value, eliminate a problem? or produce more efficiently? This requires a different view of the engineering process. “Poly Products specializes in the production of large 3D-printed products. With, among other things, a XXL portal printer with a range of 4 x 2 x 1.5 m (XxYxZ), the company is able to produce unique composite products with high strength, low weight, low maintenance surfaces and a free design.

3D printing is becoming more and more interesting

There is great market potential for Additive Manufacturing, especially for complex products. With conventional production methods, the cost price increases as the complexity of a product increases. This is much less the case with 3D printing. In addition, the market potential is increasing due to falling machine prices, which enables more and more companies to get started in an innovative way. The opportunities are also increasing. Printers are getting bigger, more accurate and faster, and there is also a growing selection of certified materials. Finally, software development makes 3D printing more and more accessible. “Software is of great importance. The added value of a 3D-printed product often comes only from the design. Today, software packages fit together perfectly, making design, simulation, carving and finishing even easier. Due to all these developments, it is logical that the 3D market is growing. It is now important that the manufacturing industry grows with it, ”says Binon.

Guaranteed print with the largest WAAM cell in the world

3D metal print in XXL format. Guaranteed in Zelzate in Belgium has made it his specialty. Using a large WAAM cell, the company can weld parts with a maximum mass of 20 tons and dimensions up to 10 x 6 x 5 m using a mobile welding robot. This allows the company to repair or remodel large, expensive components to extend the life of industrial equipment or reduce downtime.

Though Guaranteed can also print new products with the WAAM cell, the focus is on repairing large components for the mining, shipbuilding and oil and gas industries. By repairing these components, companies can save a lot of costs.

Cost reduction

During the information meeting, director Joachim Antonissen presented various components that are repaired using Additive Manufacturing. One of the projects discussed is a damaged rim on a large mining vehicle. New such a rim costs no less than 60,000 euros. Using the WAAM cell, Guaranteed can repair the rim with a turnaround time of three days for only 5,000 euros. “Heavy industries are increasingly reducing costs and limiting downtime. Repairing expensive components with long delivery times is a perfect solution for this. In practice, we scan the product, after which we can use software to customize the model, simulate it and then produce it. Thanks be this working method, we can produce high-quality components for the first time and at the same time guarantee short delivery times. ”

A WAAM demo product from Guaranteed.  The Belgian company can weld parts with a maximum mass of 20 tons and dimensions of up to 10 x 6 x 5 m using a mobile welding robot.

A WAAM demo product from Guaranteed. The Belgian company can weld parts with a maximum mass of 20 tons and dimensions of up to 10 x 6 x 5 m using a mobile welding robot.

Guaranteed uses proprietary welding and metallurgical simulation features that guarantee the choice of optimal production parameters. The WAAM cell uses standard welding wire to build the components. This allows the company to choose from many different materials and it is also possible to combine different materials with each other as long as they are metallurgically compatible. “This allows us, for example, to apply a wear-resistant material to an existing part. In this respect, the possibilities are endless, and the savings that our customers can achieve are significant, ”says Antonissen.

Guaranteed is currently working on the idea of ​​expanding with a mobile installation for on-site repair of large components.

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