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3D Printing Will Rock Manufacturing

John Hornick
3/7/2016 08:00 AM EST

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JamesM951
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Re: Dem bones
JamesM951   3/9/2016 4:19:27 PM
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Maybe. Are the 3D parts strong enough ?  I'd want Wolverine bones that I can kick ass with rather than delicate plastic bones that I have to worry about all the time. 

perl_geek
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Dem bones
perl_geek   3/9/2016 3:46:13 PM
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Printing bones  (and other body parts) is a good application for 3-D printing. There is no good current technique to displace. It's inherently one-off, and a few hours to make the piece is neither here nor there.

dt_hayden
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Re: Hysterical handwaving
dt_hayden   3/9/2016 3:20:51 PM
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As they say, the right tool for the right job.  I'll bet there are many yet undiscovered jobs for 3D printers.  Here's one being tested:

http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/tech-edge/4441519/3D-printed-bones-made-using-bone-powder-may-be-on-the-horizon

perl_geek
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On the same page?
perl_geek   3/8/2016 11:38:43 AM
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We seem to be having a vigorous agreement on this. I'm almost worried by so many people confirming what I said; means it wasn't very original. :-)*

IJD
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Re: Hysterical handwaving
IJD   3/8/2016 11:18:04 AM
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The simple fact is that additive processing is orders of magnitude slower than subtractive processing, and even more so than moulding/pressing/forging -- building up a 3D object of any size from any material is far slower (at least 100x) than carving or milling it out of a solid block, which in turn is far slower (at least 100x) than moulding or pressing. No amount of wishing will change these facts.

So for prototypes and high-cost one-offs or things which may be unmanufacturable using other techniques, 3D printing may be a good (but very expensive) solution. For small/medium volumes of high/medium cost products CNC machining is far better. For large volumes of low-cost products moulding or pressing will always win.


A 3D printer in the home may look cute, and is indeed unsurpassed as a way of turning out cheap fragile plastic knick-knacks slowly and expensively. Ones in industry (e.g. sintered metal) are unsurpassed as a way of making ridiculously expensive high-quality objects which can't be made any other way. Neither of these will in any way "rock manufacturing", they can't turn out a forged spanner or an injection-moulded bowl in seconds at a cost not much above the raw materials.

elizabethsimon
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Re: Hysterical handwaving
elizabethsimon   3/8/2016 11:02:50 AM
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Modern computer controlled lathes and milling machines also give the illusion of skill :)

There is room for both additive (3-D prinitng) and subtractive (CNC milling) manufacturing methods. Depends on the materials and properties that go into what you're making.

The cost of all these types of machines has come down to the point where it's affordable to smaller companies (and serious hobbiests). It will be interesting to see where this goes in the next few years.

dt_hayden
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Re: Hysterical handwaving
dt_hayden   3/8/2016 10:08:26 AM
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A large difference is the historical manufacturing methods you mention are subtractive, whereas 3D printing is additive.  Additionally the historical methods involved some level of skilled labor, whereas 3D printing gives the illusion of skill.   Other than the end result of manufacturing an item, there is not much in common, and so it is quite innovative. 

I imagine any long term adoption beyond the hobbyist will be for low volume manufacturing of smaller items, artsy nick-nacks, prototyping, and on-demand items (food even?).

Potentially long term there could be medium to large volume manufacturing of large complex structures, where new structural designs provide considerable weight savings over traditional produced methods. 

ReallySmartGuy
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Re: Hysterical handwaving
ReallySmartGuy   3/7/2016 8:44:55 PM
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We've had 3-D printing since the beginning of the industrial age. They're called lathes and milling machines. Recent inovations have enabled lower cost machines for rapid prototyping, but at the cost of very slow operation, poor material quality, and poor finish. The impact on manufacturing has been minimal and will continue to be so for the next few decades until a radically new technology is invented.

You are not going to manufacture or repair tubine blades on a 3D printer unless you're refering to a milling machine that we've had for a 150 years. Most of the inovations I expect to be in printed electronics and similiar fields that can make use of ink jet type technology.

perl_geek
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Hysterical handwaving
perl_geek   3/7/2016 2:35:11 PM
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3-D printing is definitely an innovation that has some interesting implications for changed processes, but it doesn't deserve some of the indiscriminate enthusiasm displayed.

There's no question that in some circumstances, e.g. prototypes, irregularly-shaped objects like jawbones, or other one-offs, it is the best (or only) way to make things. However, in many cases it is painfully slow by comparison with other manufacturing processes, (e.g. injection moulding), and is essentially sequential, versus parallel operations that can create many pieces at once.

There are multiple technologies available, which use different materials, with different properties, and suit different kinds of objects.

Rigid thermoplastics with comparatively low melting points are used in most of the hobbyist machines. For some parts those properties may be perfectly adequate, and for others they may be used for mould creation in an analogous process to lost-wax casting, but then suddenly you're dealing with hot, liquid metal. There are also limitations on the shapes that can be made conveniently. (Overhangs have to be supported.)

Sintering, either of plastics or metal powders can produce harder and more complicated pieces, but takes considerable time. UV or laser hardening of liquid plastics can produce similar shapes, but I don't think there's any way of using metals in this process, (other than something like lost-x casting).

Given the capital costs and sheer size of printers, especially the larger and more capable ones, is the average household going to contain several machines and a wide stock of raw materials? I think not. There are small lathes, CNC machines and pottery wheels available for the older technologies, all of which are within most middle-class budgets, but the economics of scale and specialisation (not to mention safety) mean that very few households make their own machined parts or pottery. Desk-top printers haven't replaced industrial-scale presses, merely supplemented them.

The meme that "3-D printing will totally take over manufacturing" has been around for several years, without so far showing many signs of realisation, so it's hard to see why this eruption is anything new.

 

 

docdivakar
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Add Desktop CNC too!
docdivakar   3/7/2016 12:46:04 PM
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True, manufacturing is already disrupted by 3D printing. But I would argue that some of the commercial 3D printers worthy of being in production lines are appoaching the price tags of low end CNC machines. Though the CapEx may be almost the same, 3D printers certainly save in labor costs such as programming, g-code generation, etc.

We have come a long way from the 1990's era of SLAs which was one of the ways of rapid prototyping. 3D printing is a very affordable way to circumvent expensive injection molding for one. It has certainly democratized manufacturing to a wider supplier base.

But there is another paradigm shift taking place as well -it is the desktop 3DPrinter-like metal fab machines. OtherMill and ZMorph are offering machines below $2K for metal fab that can save a bundle for small volume prototyping. ZMorph indeed combines 3D Printer and CNC into one machine where the 'print head' is swappable with an end mill for metal fab!

I recently used OtherMill for a project that saved more than $1K in metal fab and a week in turn around time!

We are for sure in the era of disruptions!

MP Divakar

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