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It’s Time to Get Your Feet Wet in Additive Manufacturing — and Production

DN Staff

March 25, 2015

3 Min Read
It’s Time to Get Your Feet Wet in Additive Manufacturing — and Production

So everyone is talking production 3D printing.

People ask me about production 3D printing all the time: how fast and how accurate are the machines, and what do the surface finishes look like, probably because I am such a proponent of additive manufacturing.

At my company, Baklund R&D LLC, we look for applications all the time with which to apply additive manufacturing. The shop has what I would consider additive production: 100 parts of this, 200 parts of that, and aluminum or steel parts when applicable being replaced by ABS or Ultem plastics.

Yes, there is some finishing involved, and post-processing needs to be applied sometimes. For the most part with what we're doing, we are adding an aluminum component or a steel component to the plastic components and using epoxy or material welding to make the component complete.

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Looking back, I contemplate how much farther ahead the company would be in the additive manufacturing space if I had gotten involved five or six years earlier. I really wish that I had.

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.

The additive manufacturing machine in my shop is 3 years old, and there have been several changes to the model in those three years. But I also know the accuracy that I get out of my machine, because we have spent so much time with it and made modifications to it to get above-spec performance. This type of knowledge lends an advantage; the guys in my shop know how to run the machine, and they have learned how to design for 3D printing. This has made my entire company more efficient and effective.

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My guys design better, they manufacture better, and they set up more efficiently because they're always thinking outside of the "blocks." This is because with 3D printing, you can design and print any shape, and this creates a much deeper thought process among my staff about what is possible.

I will be presenting a free, hour-long Design News webinar on the applicability of additive manufacturing in a precision job shop, i.e., using 3D-printed parts in the place of standard fixtures and jigs. Please join me on March 31, at 2 p.m. EST; feel free to ask questions as I love dialogue; and, most of all, enjoy speaking conceptually about additive manufacturing.

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I have been preparing my company for the last four years for the future of the manufacturing industry. We already know what is possible currently. I am much more excited about what the next five to 10 years holds in additive manufacturing.

Jon Baklund is President and Chief Technology Officer of Baklund R&D LLC, a precision job shop that offers tool and die solutions, 3D printing and additive machining, and medical plastics micromolding, as well as manufacturing consulting.

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