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Materials & Assembly
Ford Builds Metal Prototypes With 3D Printing
1/8/2013

Ford engineers send CAD files between facilities, then build prototypes at workstations using MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printers.  (Source: Ford Motor Co.)
Ford engineers send CAD files between facilities, then build prototypes at workstations
using MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printers.
(Source: Ford Motor Co.)

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eafpres
User Rank
Gold
Re: 3D metal direct manufacturing does exist
eafpres   1/11/2013 11:16:13 AM
NO RATINGS
Ann--you are correct, but the article was not written well and headlined in a more sensational manner than necessary.  Lots of progress is being made, but the over-hype is already creating ripples in the investment communities and could actually serve to slow progress if funding is pulled back from innovative start ups.

It seems most of the fully functional metal parts made are done in very, very expensive machines, for very unique problems, and while faster and lower cost than, say, machining and welding titanium, are quite a ways from more mundane applications.

I think it would have been better to serve the audience by highlighting what Ford is actually accomplishing by commiting to an approach thereby making it available to their teams.  Over the years since 3D "printing" began appearing in engineering shops, it often was championed only by engineers, and management didn't have a long view.  The cost of in-house printing a decade ago scared off most bean counters.  What Ford is doing is changing the game from a contentious discussion on the value of a technology to one of resource availbility and "what can we do with this to be more competitive".  That is the key take-away for me.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: 3D metal direct manufacturing does exist
Ann R. Thryft   1/11/2013 11:44:51 AM
I think it's more important to point out what accomplishments are being achieved by 3D printing. It's been used for so long for prototypes only--or by hobbyists--that that's what most people think of when they hear the term. Consequently, many don't think that printing big production parts in metal is possible--but it is. As is often the case in a technology area, the high end is where the bleeding edge occurs, and where the dollars are concentrated, and therefore that's where the next big breakthroughs in what's possible occur. Of course it's expensive and addresses small markets--that's the nature of the territory. Eventually, those technologies get proved out and become available to larger markets.

eafpres
User Rank
Gold
Re: 3D metal direct manufacturing does exist
eafpres   1/11/2013 12:07:10 PM
NO RATINGS
Hi Ann--that makes sense.  Any chance you will do more coverage on the mcor's IRIS printer which makes 3D models out of paper layers?  I think with some development that technology could also be used to make sand molds--I beleive that some molds used to be made by burning the form out of the sand mold then casting.  It would be easy to burn or digest the paper form and have a good quality sand mold.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: 3D metal direct manufacturing does exist
Ann R. Thryft   1/11/2013 12:54:32 PM
Funny you should ask :) I cover high end AM and 3D printing, but not the prototypes or software. That's the CAD/CAM Corner  blog. My ex-colleague Beth Stackpole, who used to have that beat, covered the pre-Iris paper Mcor technology here
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1394&doc_id=238107
and my current colleague Cabe Atwell, who has that beat now, covered the Iris in a post that ran today
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1394&doc_id=257141&itc=dn_analysis_element&

Scott Orlosky
User Rank
Platinum
Re: 3D printing is an exciting space
Scott Orlosky   1/13/2013 8:52:49 PM
NO RATINGS
It's feeling pretty "Brave New World-ish" out there in 3D on-demand manufacturing.  My guess is that this will work it's way into all sorts of areas that we can't even think of right now.  Imagine everything from geological structure models, animation characters, non-human biological structures.  It might even be cheaper to make something "in place" instead of shipping it for certain parts. Definitely a game-changer.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: 3D printing is an exciting space
Ann R. Thryft   1/14/2013 11:57:32 AM
NO RATINGS
Scott, building something in place is already happening: it's what's behind both the attempts to make stuff on the moon from moon dust, which we've covered here
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=250614
and also to make huge multi-unit buildings in place on earth:
http://www.ubmfuturecities.com/author.asp?section_id=262&doc_id=523906

cheesewhiz
User Rank
Iron
Re: 3d printing
cheesewhiz   1/23/2013 3:12:15 PM
NO RATINGS
"it does open new opportunities for the unscrupulous to copy legitimate products such as car parts, aircraft parts, guns and other items that are copyrighted or controlled" ... I don't understand, i can reverse engineer any part for my own use copyrighted or controlled ... as along as i don't sell it 

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