BMW has used additive manufacturing (AM) to enhance the ergonomics of its hand-held assembly devices. The weight of this jig was reduced by 72 percent using AM and a sparse-filled build technique. (Source: Stratasys)
Excellent post Bill. I have been involved with AM for quite some time and the greatest benefit I see in my daily work is "proof of concept". The time spent in providing a DG (design guidance) model is remarkably short compared to traditional methods; i.e. machining, casting, forming, etc. One area gaining additional "respect" is the production of jigs and fixtures to hold components during assembly operations. This is proving to be equally time-saving and allows us to do a great deal of additional "what-if" at minimal expense.
Thanks for this informative report from the front lines about the fact that 3D printing and AM have gone way beyond prototyping. We've heard a lot about medical and dental apps, but it's important to know the extent that fixtures and tooling, as well as automotive, are being affected by AM for production parts. I also think the stats on injection molding costs and time are valuable. There seems to be a perception that 3D printing is slow, but it depends on what you're making with it. Compared to traditional methods for some end-use parts, it's really fast.
While many larger companies are still reluctant to rely on wireless networks to transmit important information in industrial settings, there is an increasing acceptance rate of the newer, more robust wireless options that are now available.
To those who have not stepped into additive manufacturing, get involved as soon as possible. This is for the benefit of your company. When the new innovations come out, you want to be ready to take advantage of them immediately, and that takes knowledge.
At the NPE2015 plastics expo this week in Orlando, Fla., Milliken & Co., a company that specializes in property-enhancing additives for polymers, is showing two products that are expected to have a major impact on their respective markets.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.