Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is a transformative approach to industrial production that enables the creation of lighter, stronger parts and systems.
It is yet, another technological advancement made possible by the transition from analog to digital processes. In recent decades, communications, imaging, architecture and engineering have all undergone their own digital revolutions. Now, AM can bring digital flexibility and efficiency to manufacturing operations.
Additive manufacturing uses data computer-aided-design (CAD) software or 3D object scanners to direct hardware to deposit material, layer upon layer, in precise geometric shapes. As its name implies, additive manufacturing adds material to create an object. By contrast, when you create an object by traditional means, it is often necessary to remove material through milling, machining, carving, shaping or other means.
Although the terms “3D printing” and “rapid prototyping” are casually used to discuss additive manufacturing, each process is actually a subset of additive manufacturing.
While additive manufacturing seems new to many, it has actually been around for several decades. In the right applications, additive manufacturing delivers a perfect trifecta of improved performance, complex geometries and simplified fabrication. As a result, opportunities abound for those who actively embrace additive manufacturing.
WHAT IS ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING?
GE Additive specializes in developing Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) machines for the additive manufacturing of metal parts. The three processes GE offers with in the PBF category, recognized by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), include:
- Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM)
- Electron Beam Melting (EBM)
- Binder Jet
The PBF process creates a physical object from a digital design or CAD file. In all of GE Additive’s machines the process involve the spreading of the metal powder layer by layer and uses either a laser or electron beam to melt and fuse powder together to create a part. The process repeats until the entire part is created. Loose or unfused powder is removed during post processing and is recycled for the next build.
HOW DO ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING WORKS?
The term “additive manufacturing” references technologies that grow three-dimensional objects one superfine layer at a time. Each successive layer bonds to the preceding layer of melted or partially melted material. It is possible to use different substances for layering material, including metal powder, thermoplastics, ceramics, composites, glass and even edibles like chocolate.
Objects are digitally defined by computer-aided-design (CAD) software that is used to create .stl files that essentially “slice” the object into ultra-thin layers. This information guides the path of a nozzle or print head as it precisely deposits material upon the preceding layer. Or, a laser or electron beam selectively melts or partially melts in a bed of powdered material. As materials cool or are cured, they fuse together to form a three-dimensional object.
The journey from .stl file to 3D object is revolutionizing manufacturing. Gone are the intermediary steps, like the creation of molds or dies, that cost time and money.
VERDICT:-It is an great innovation.