Engineering Materials

Airbus' 3D-Printed Metal Spacecraft Hinge

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Ann R. Thryft
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Cheaper, faster and lighter weight
Ann R. Thryft   9/22/2014 11:41:39 AM
I think it still surprises some folks that 3D printing can be cheaper and faster and make lighter-weight metal parts than traditional manufacturing. Cheaper and faster, of course, are more likely in industries like aerospace or industrial tooling and not at all the case in high volume consumer goods.

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Re: Cheaper, faster and lighter weight
jzanter   9/23/2014 11:48:20 AM
It is remarkable. There are lots of cases where printing can make sense. The first condition is usually, but not always, that it has to be low qty. When the desired, or let's say, optimal geometry, leads to rather unusual shapes, even for cnc machining, printing can really shine. We've been printing plastic tooling for use around the shop. Mostly simple stuff, but a few that are conformal holding fixtures for forged components - those look unpleasant to program for machining - but can be printed in a matter of hours, tested and tweaked if necessary.

It's definitely not for everything, but it's a natural for low qty and high complexity.

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Re: Cheaper, faster and lighter weight
AnandY   9/23/2014 2:45:11 PM
3D printing does away with traditional making/manufacturing of goods but does that mean people who have been working till date, making things the old fashioned way, would lose their jobs? This would create unemployment of people numbering in the millions. Do we need this kind of a technology when such a vast amount of unemployment would make the money fall faster?

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Re: Cheaper, faster and lighter weight
AnandY   9/23/2014 2:48:14 PM
@jzanter: Also 3D printing can be used in automobile manufacturing as well! I hope it drives down machinery cost because if machinery costs go down then a number of problems that come from inflation would be solved. For e.g. oil prices.

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