Recent advances in additive manufacturing, rapid prototyping and industrial 3D printing techniques are allowing designers to break new ground.
As recently as a few years ago, it was difficult and cost-prohibitive to quickly create parts with complicated geometries, that were made of engineering-grade materials, or that could withstand end-use stress. As increasingly complex forms have become possible, however, additive manufacturing has created new possibilities for designers in numerous industries.
Take, for instance, the aerospace field. In the past, metal airplane parts made by machining were limited by the capabilities of milling and turning tools. With additive manufacturing, however, those same metal parts can be created in terrific shapes based on CAD files. Air duct systems that curve around other internal components used to require 20 or 30 (or more) different assemblies all with multiple parts to get from nose to tail. With modern additive manufacturing, ducts can be created with far fewer pieces, eliminating potential breakdowns at connection points.
In addition, additive manufacturing offers a number of opportunities when it comes to creating a lighter aircraft – and in the end, weight is money. In jet engines, metal 3D printing has been employed for fuel nozzle creation which has resulted in reduced part count, assembly work and weight, reaping huge fuel efficiency gains.
Aerospace engineers are re-envisioning how thousands of aircraft fasteners are produced based on modern additive manufacturing capabilities. If they can create a hollow fastener that is still strong enough to withstand the stresses of flight, they could achieve a significant weight (and therefore cost) savings.
Additive manufacturing-derived advances are just as substantial for the life sciences and medical industries. From tools and devices to actual prosthetic pieces, medical-grade materials and complex additive manufacturing capabilities are making previously impossible innovations possible.
ProtoCAM engineers have decades of experience in rapid prototyping and are always looking for the next progressive additive manufacturing technology that just might unlock incredible potential for our customers.