The Staub team, led by Tony, made another visit to IMTS this year. The International Manufacturing Technology Show is held every two years in Chicago. It is the event if you are interested in anything that is related to manufacturing. Visitors are guaranteed to see at least 53 things that make their jaws hit the floor. Some things that are being displayed there seem straight out of a sci-fi novel, but the salesmen and representatives will assure you that what you see is very real.
We saw robots working in an assembly line, a machining center that changed tools in 0.8 seconds, and the Laser Tec 65 by DMG MORI, which combines both Additive and Subtractive technologies. We met (and played with) Baxter, rubbed elbows with execs from DMG MORI, and saw some really cool measuring tools. We met people from Oak Ridge Labs, a government research facility in Tennessee who are pushing the boundaries of 3D Printing. They actually printed the chassis of a car… in one piece… then assembled the components and drove it!
What made IMTS different this year, was the increased presence of Additive Manufacturing, or 3D Printing. In the manufacturing world, 3D Printing has historically been relegated to the novelty zone. This week, it was very clear that this attitude is changing. Companies like Stratasys, 3D Systems, and EOS had people waiting in line to enter their booths all day long.
Tony and I attended the Additive Manufacturing Workshop presented by Modern Machine Shop. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to listen to such an impressive lineup of speakers, or to hear how those in manufacturing viewed 3D Printing. The workshop was fantastic! Here’s a brief recap of the most interesting points, broken down for each speaker.
Dr. Lonnie Love
Dr. Love works at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His specialty is in manufacturing systems and robotics, but he finds himself becoming more and more involved with Additive Manufacturing. He preached that there will always be a place for traditional and additive manufacturing going forward, the trick is to know when to use which method. His laboratory is also pushing Additive Manufacturing technology forward. At Oak Ridge his group has developed Big Area Additive Manufacturing in conjunction with Cincinnati Incorporated. They are making parts that are absolutely enormous. Oak Ridge and Cincinnati collaborated to create the 3D Printed cart in the photos above.
Current and previous plastic 3D Printing technologies have limitations. They are, slow, small, and expensive. Future and upcoming plastic 3D Printing technologies (such as BAAM) are making strides. They are much faster, way larger, and more cost effective. As the evolution of 3D Printing continues, groups such as Oak Ridge National Laboratories and others will continue to look for ways to make improvements.
John Backlund owns small job shop in Minnesota. He’s embraced 3D Printing in his shop by encouraging his employees to use it as recreational tool. He sees the biggest advantage in offering the printer up to employees. As long as his Fortus is not growing parts, his machine is fair game. Employees can dream up, design, and create anything that they want with no cost to them. He’s convinced that allowing creativity to flourish and opening the minds of his employees to designing for Additive Manufacturing has made his employees and his shop stronger.
Lou Young works for Linear Mold, the largest producer of metal 3D Printed parts in North America. His company is a a mold house that has embraced Additive Manufacturing. Linear Mold is a huge proponent of using this technology in order to create injection tools with conformal cooling channels. With Additive Manufacturing, tools can be grown with cooling channels directed to areas that are known to be problematic. Where traditional machining limited where cooling channels could be placed, the chains are off with Additive Manufacturing. The cycle times in molds with conformal cooling are drastically reduced, and Linear Mold and its customers are reaping the benefits.
Mike Hayes is the principle design engineer for Additive Manufacturing R&D at Boeing. Mike works as an internal salesman at Boeing, preaching and teaching about the benefits of Additive Manufacturing to each of its different groups and departments. Mike works with plastic 3D Printing, and has a counterpart who focuses on Metal 3D Printing. One of the biggest benefits of Additive Manufacturing that Mike sees, is that it allows his company to fail fast. Engineers at Boeing use this technology to accelerate through the R&D process as fast as they possibly can by being able to see limitations in their designs. The video below explains a unique partnership between Boeing and Lotus that allows Boeing to use and test AM at high speeds.
Mike sees a big change coming, in which Additive Manufacturing is moving from Rapid Prototyping towards End-Use Parts. It will take time for this transition to happen, but this is the future, and will be the way that Additive Manufactured parts make their way onto other vehicles and airplanes.
Greg Morris is a rock star in the Additive Manufacturing world. His previous company, Morris Technologies, was the largest player in metal 3D Printing for many years. Morris worked with OEMs to push the technology and the industry forward. His company was acquired in 2012 by GE, and he now works as the Additive Technologies Leader for GE Aviation. Morris is famous for developing the LEAP fuel nozzle, which is the gold standard of design for Additive Manufacturing.
Greg Morris brought DMLS, or metal 3D Printing, to the United States in 2003. By 2012 he had 17 EOS machines, and had an eye toward production. Now with GE, production with Additive Manufacturing is becoming a reality. To fit the Boeing fleet with LEAP nozzles GE is creating a 4 step production network, from concept, to R&D, to prototype, to production. The production facility will be up and running and working towards the goal of producing 40,000 fuel nozzles beginning in 2018.
Design for AM, and how AM can feed the Advanced Manufacturing workforce
One common thread that we heard from all speakers, was the need for design for Additive Manufacturing. Each of these experts stressed its importance, but all acknowledged that we are far away from being competent in this area. Dr. Love insisted in looking to young, artistic, and creative minds to be the designers of the future. He and Greg Morris agreed that we are probably a generation away from being immersed in this technology enough to truly take advantage of it.
Dr. Love said that Additive Manufacturing is the “gateway drug” to manufacturing. While some may find it offensive, we at Staub Additive have found it to be true. Young minds are truly captivated by 3D Printing. We are able to show our Additive technologies as evidence of our commitment to future growth and advancement, and then back that up by showing our robotics, automation, and machining technologies in our Machining department. Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing will help bring manufacturing out of the shadows, and help show our young people that a career in manufacturing can be interesting and viable.