Stephanie (Monsanty) Hendrixson served as a Modern Machine Shop summer intern in 2012 and joined the team as an assistant editor later that fall. She currently works on event news for MMS Online and on the production of the print magazine. She also blogs about additive technology and helps to manage Additive Manufacturing magazine as its associate editor. Stephanie holds an M.A. in professional writing from the University of Cincinnati and a B.A. in English literature and history from the University of Mount Union.
Aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney has been using additive manufacturing for prototyping since the 1980s, but just recently began producing service parts using a metal powder-bed process. The components the company is building will be part of the PurePower geared turbofan PW1500G engine, to be used in Bombardier aircraft.
The video above illustrates the production process for one such component. Beyond the significance of the engine, the video is worthwhile for its succinct depiction of the steps involved in additively manufacturing a metal component, both before and after the actual build. Fast-forward to the 1:20 mark to catch this step-by-step footage.
Is there a conflict between additive manufacturing and CNC machining? Robert Chiari, a regional sales manager with Renishaw, says no—in fact, it’s quite the opposite. He points out that many manufacturers use both subtractive and additive processes to arrive at a finished part. In the video above, Mr. Chiari discusses the complementary technologies in a conversation with Senior Editor Peter Zelinski.
(This video is one of a series of interviews filmed during the most recent Additive Manufacturing Conference. View the complete list of videos on the Additive Manufacturing website.)
Sciaky’s EBAM system is equipped with two wire feeders that travel with the electron beam head, enabling the building of large parts.
Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) holds plenty of possibilities for metal AM applications. The process builds parts using an electron beam to melt metal wire that travels with the beam head. In contrast to powder bed systems in which the size of the part is limited by the size of the bed, parts built on an EBAM system can be as large as the machine’s travels permit.
This capacity for building large parts plus its speed gives EBAM clear potential as an alternative to forging. Like forging, it is a near-net-shape process capable of building large forms. But unlike forging, it requires no die or other tooling, making it faster and more flexible. EBAM can provide design freedoms in geometry that forging cannot.
But perhaps more significantly, EBAM also provides material freedom. Chicago-based Sciaky has developed an EBAM system that allows for two different wires to be fed into the machine. This dual-fed system could be used to deposit two spools of wire simultaneously, increasing throughput, or loaded with both large-diameter and fine wire to provide a range of detail. However, its greatest potential may lie in the ability to blend wires of two different alloys within the same build, creating a proprietary alloy or even a gradient between materials.
Will additive manufacturing (AM) overtake machining and traditional processes? This was one of the questions posed during an AM panel discussion hosted by Mazak and moderated by Senior Editor Peter Zelinski.
Panelists said that the use of AM will grow as engineers begin to design for the technology, but for now tolerances prevent additive from taking the place of machining. The video above contains the entire 5-minute segment of the discussion.
Panelists (from left to right) are:
Dr. Taku Yamazaki, project leader at Mazak’s engineering headquarters in Japan and a specialist in the company’s additive manufacturing technology.
Users at the Solutions Centers will get support for their projects from Renishaw applications engineers. Images courtesy of Renishaw.
The barriers to using additive manufacturing (AM) technology for production are physical—having the right equipment, software, etc.—but also largely mental. Engineering a part for additive manufacturing requires a different way of thinking about strength, material usage, finishing and more, especially for users and companies coming from a machining background. Using AM for production also demands confidence in the process, and that it will be repeatable and consistent.
As a way of helping new and potential additive users overcome these hurdles and learn to think with an “AM mindset,” Renishaw has launched its Solutions Center concept. Unveiled at EMO last year, the concept is a global network of facilities intended to help potential and current additive manufacturing users learn about the technology. Users can work within an “incubator cell” staffed with an operator and applications engineer to securely benchmark designs and test out processes. The goal is to help users develop a complete process for manufacturing production parts.
The first Solutions Center in Pune, India, is already open for business and is said to be India’s largest additive manufacturing facility. Additional centers are currently under construction in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Germany.