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.
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.
A new facility dedicated to additive manufacturing training has opened in Louisville, Kentucky. Located on the University of Louisville (UofL) campus, the UL Additive Manufacturing Competency Center (AMCC) is the result of a partnership between the university and Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the safety science organization. An open house with ribbon cutting February 16 commemorated the opening of the center, which began offering courses late last year.
The UL AMCC is set up to illustrate the entire metal additive manufacturing process. It boasts a computer lab for designing and programming AM parts; two selective laser melting machines stocked with stainless steel powder; and a selection of postprocessing, finishing and inspection equipment. The center’s students learn about production, best practices and safety procedures through hands-on interaction with these machines.
Most of the students who come through the UL AMCC work for manufacturers who already own AM equipment, but no prior experience is necessary. Courses are available in three different tiers. Tier 1 provides foundational classes in the basics of 3D printing and additive manufacturing, and is a good starting place for beginners or those who are just thinking about an equipment purchase. Tier 2 includes training in AM design, safety, materials and processes, and Tier 3 offers advanced training in metal part production. A formal certification process developed by UL is available to students who demonstrate required competencies.
The UL AMCC plans to add courses and sections in the future and will update its curriculum every six to 12 months as technologies evolve. View our coverage on the Additive Manufacturing website to learn more about this facility and see photos from the grand opening.
Read the February digital edition by clicking on the photo above.
The part pictured on the cover of the February 2016 issue is a near-net-shape component of a satellite propellant tank that was made by Lockheed Martin Spacy Systems via Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM). This wire-fed process can be used as an alternative to forging, particularly for large or complex metal parts in which it often offers an advantage in lead time. Click the cover image above to access the digital edition of the magazine and turn to page 24 to read the full story.
Also in this issue:
What Renishaw is doing to ease AM integration for manufacturers;
How 3D-printed custom fixturing helps a moldmaker remain flexible to the demands and deadlines of its customers; and
What Delcam learned about additive manufacturing during trial runs producing a 316L stainless steel manifold with a powder-bed process.
DMG MORI opened its Pfronten, Germany, plant to more than 8,000 visitors including journalists and customers for its annual open house January 26-29. Ninety machines were on display spread throughout 4,200 square meters of floor space, including six world premieres:
The CTX Gamma 3000 TC second generation turn-mill, with an extended turning length of 3,050 mm;
The DMU 160 P DuoBlock fourth generation universal milling machine, the largest model in its series with a work envelope measuring 1,600 × 1,600 × 1,100 mm;
The DMU 210 P second generation universal milling machine equipped with an intelligent cooling system to boost precision and long-term accuracy;
The DMU 600 Gantry linear XXL, a gantry-style machining center that can accommodate workpieces weighing as much as 150,000 kg;
The Dixi 125, the smallest in its series of high-precision milling machines designed for workpieces ranging to 1.250 mm in diameter; and
The Ultrasonic 20 linear second generation machining center, equipped with SmartSonic technology to automatically implement the ultrasonic frequency that is best suited to the actuator and tool.
That all these premieres build on past generations speaks to a point brought up during the event. In a press conference, DMG MORI President Dr. Masahiko Mori noted that the company is focused on improving the performance of existing machines, and placing an increased emphasis on streamlining its product line. The company aims to reduce its product offerings from around 300 to about 220 over the next year, with an ultimate goal of reducing that further to 150 or 160 total.
Along with consolidating the lines, the company is also moving toward more standardization, with components that will be interchangeable across products. For instance, a wheel-type toolchanger prevalent on machines throughout the plant is one such component. The modular ATC is a replacement for chain-type magazines and is said to be easy to maintain; one through five wheels can be combined on a single system. Standardized physical components like this simplify machine tool building and assembly, and make it easier to produce and supply spare parts to customers. Combined with the Celos control used across DMG MORI machines, the strategy also supports the implementation of process tracking and data-driven manufacturing.
Dr. Mori and Dr. Rüdiger Kapitza, DMG MORI chairman, also spoke about the company’s recent decision to serve U.S. customers directly rather than through distributors. In order to support this move, DMG MORI will open more technical centers as well as employ more local agents who can act as training and support personnel for customers. By providing a more direct link to users, DMG MORI hopes to provide better solutions to its users and also acquire more direct feedback to help it improve its products.
The press conference included announcements of several new technical centers worldwide, including Moscow, Russia, (opening May 23, 2016) and Seoul, South Korea (opening during the second quarter of 2016).
Mold manufacturer TriPro Technologies prides itself on working closely with customers to prototype and help refine the design of products before building the molds. Its Maker Gear M2 3D printer helps with this service, enabling the shop to quickly turn out prototypes. But the printer is also used in production. 3D-printed custom supports and workholding fixtures have saved the shop money and time in turning around its moldmaking work.
The image above depicts one example. The plastic injection-molded part on the left is a component for a feed auger, used to push product up and out of a chute. The piece was designed to be held in place with two stainless steel rivets pressed into the two holes and attached to the auger via rare earth magnets.
The angle of the holes combined with the curve of the part made it necessary to build the B side of the injection mold in three parts, so that they could be removed without damaging the features. Holding this section of the mold for machining in the shop’s sinker EDM proved to be a challenge; aside from consisting of multiple pieces, this portion of the mold offered no parallel sides for clamping. A custom 3D-printed fixture (visible on the right) held the parts together and provided the necessary straight edges.