Steve Fetch, general manager of KAM, breaks down additive manufacturing technology and its benefits.
What Is Additive?
Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is leading the way for and helping to shape the next industrial revolution. Recent technological advances in METAL ADDITIVE are disrupting manufacturing. What is so different about additive manufacturing? Traditional (subtractive) manufacturing such as milling, cutting, drilling, etc. removes metal from a larger block, cylinder or casting to achieve the final shape of the product. Metal additive manufacturing differs, as the name implies, by starting with a metallic powder that is spread into a thin layer, bonding these layers and stacking layer by layer to create a part. At a very high level, traditional (subtractive) manufacturing REMOVES material to create a part while additive ADDS material to create a part. This latter approach breaks down design and manufacturing barriers where technical challenges or high costs in certain applications have existed with subtractive manufacturing.
These advantages in additive metal manufacturing are turning historical manufacturing formulas upside down. This inversion manifests in the CREATION OF HIGHLY COMPLEX PARTS, THE ELIMINATION OF TOOLING AND THE ADOPTION OF ADDITIVE MATERIAL TECHNOLOGY.
Advantages of Additive
- Allows for significant increases in part complexity
- Integration of multiple parts into single designs
- Hidden or embedded features and unusual geometries, enabling the creativity and imagination of designers
- Unlike traditional methods, additive is not limited by tool paths or the ability to access features
- Allows designers to dream innovative solutions while not being limited by the associated costs and technology restrictions of traditional manufacturing. At Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing (KAM), we call these Engineered Disruptive Solutions (EDS).
- Traditional tooling can be eliminated or made at significantly lower costs
- Since metal additive uses powdered materials and builds shapes by stacking layers, tooling is not required to create a final part
- Ability to customize, revise and improve at almost zero cost
- Reduction of cycle time to introduce new products or changes
- Greater cycles of learning that drive innovation and ability to adapt quickly to market and customer needs and opportunities
- Additive metallic powders combined with unique lattice structures are also creating performance features resulting in EDS
- Metal additive materials are driving reductions in cost
- Allows for use of materials that have been historically deemed too expensive
- Materials such as titanium, nickel or difficult to machine alloys are significantly less costly when printed at near net shape versus creating shapes from billet