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.
Design freedom is one reason to choose additive manufacturing, but it can also be a logistical solution. Heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar is looking at the technology from both angles, exploring how it can leverage AM to advance designs of new components but also to speed delivery on existing and legacy parts.
The fuel filter base above is one example. A component used in the engines of Caterpillar excavators and other products, the original aluminum alloy component would have been cast. “Would have been,” because the supplier is no longer operating. That means that to support aftermarket customers, Caterpillar would need a large minimum order to justify the tooling cost with a new casting supplier.
Laser melting offers an alternative to this scenario. A version of the part made with this technology offers the required functionality, but without the need for tooling or dealing with a new supplier. In this case, laser melting is also a much faster way to deliver this legacy part.
Caterpillar has recently opened an Additive Manufacturing Facility where it is exploring additive’s potential both in designing and producing parts. Read more about the company’s AM deployment strategy in this story.
Registration has opened for the Additive Manufacturing Conference (AMC 2016), which will take place September 13-14 alongside the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) at Chicago’s McCormick place. Presented by Modern Machine Shop and Additive Manufacturing magazines, the conference focuses on the use of additive manufacturing technologies for making functional parts.
The event will feature one and a half days of presentations from 20 speakers, representing additive manufacturing OEMs, service bureaus, machinery suppliers, research organizations and product developers. The topics of these presentations will range from design for metal AM processes to shopfloor applications for 3D printers to the integration of AM and traditional machining.
Additive Manufacturing magazine covers practical, industrial applications—what companies are doing right now, today with the technology—but is also interested in AM’s future potential. Our May issue contains examples of manufacturers who are additively manufacturing parts like mold components and surgical instruments that are currently in use; however, it also takes a look at where additive is headed.
In this issue:
Caterpillar details how an additive approach to aftermarket parts is helping the company prepare for eventual production through AM.
An independent manufacturer explains why it spends time helping partners develop AM-enabled parts that will come to market in the future.
AM equipment manufacturer Arcam describes the promise and progress of additive manufacturing for the aerospace and orthopedic industries.
Read these stories and more in this month’s digital edition (and consider subscribing to receive future issues directly in your mailbox or inbox).
PTooling opened its Ontario shop to Canadian and international manufacturing professionals interested in additive manufacturing. A mural depicting some of the company’s key employees greets visitors just inside the door.
Manufacturers from Canada and the United States gathered at PTooling’s Amherstburg, Ontario, facility for an Additive Manufacturing forum April 27-28. Jointly hosted by Canada Makes and the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corp., the event included presentations from Marv Fiebig, president of PTooling; Dr. Gregory Hyatt, senior vice president and CTO of advanced solutions development for DMG MORI USA; and Matthias Kuehnelt of Hoedtke GmbH & Co. KG.
Mr. Fiebig focused his talk on what was, in many ways, the centerpiece of the event: PTooling’s DMG MORI Lasertec 65 3D hybrid manufacturing system. The machine combines five-axis CNC milling capabilities with a powder-fed laser deposition head to enable both additive and subtractive operations in the same cycle. The hybrid machine makes it possible to build additive parts up from scratch, as well as add features onto machined parts or repair damaged components.
PTooling’s became the first Lasertec additive manufacturing machine to be installed in North America when the company took delivery of it in December 2015. Now, it is one of three on the continent, but it remains the only one producing parts for external customers (the other two are captive machines owned by SpaceX and Boeing).
Marv Fiebig, president of PTooling, spoke to visitors about the company’s decision to purchase a hybrid manufacturing machine and the results it has seen so far.
Mr. Fiebig’s presentation described PTooling’s experience with the Lasertec hybrid and how additive manufacturing has affected its business. The company primarily serves the oilfield industry, but Mr. Fiebig says the new machine is opening up other possibilities in industries such as aerospace and plastics molding. He is also finding that new customers are now seeking out PTooling because of this capacity. Hosting the forum and open house was another way to help educate colleagues and potential customers about the technology.
Dr. Hyatt looked to AM’s future, drawing comparisons between additive manufacturing today and the automotive industry in the early 20th century and arguing that additive is on its way to being democratized similar to the way that automobiles eventually were. “We’re 80 percent of the way there,” he said, citing AM’s current capabilities to build on existing structures, incorporate multiple materials and integrate subtractive machining.
What will it take to achieve the remaining 20 percent? Cost per part must continue to come down and work envelopes must increase. Software that is easy to use and supports both AM and subtractive machining must be available. Robust machines that can handle 24/7 production must be developed. Dr. Hyatt also spoke to how DMG MORI is working to address these remaining concerns to help bring AM into production.
The Lasertec 65 3D has a laser deposition head fed with metal powder to additively build parts and features. The machine was running during the open house producing souvenirs for visitors.
Matthias Kuehnelt of Hoedtke spoke about the company’s research into best practices for hybrid manufacturing. Hoedtke, based in Germany, also owns a Lasertec 65 3D and has performed extensive testing on this machine with regard to both its additive and subtractive capabilities. Mr. Kuehnelt presented results from various tests exploring how parameters such as table movement and the direction of deposition affect the strength and quality of additive parts.
The event concluded with a Q&A session with the three speakers, and tours of PTooling’s facility. The organizers plan to make the additive manufacturing forum an annual event, and PTooling expects to host it again next year.
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.