Come Together: Alliances and Additive Manufacturing
3D printing works better with collaboration. The latest issue of Additive Manufacturing magazine features success stories that depend on various parties working together.
One article in the latest issue of Additive Manufacturing (sister publication to Modern Machine Shop) tells the story of a 3D-printed bracket. This particular bracket is significant because of what it illustrates about the potential for topology optimization and metal 3D printing to transform the appearance of the objects around us. But it is also significant because of what it suggests about the collaborative nature of additive manufacturing (AM). This bracket was created for the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC); it was redesigned for AM by Materials Science Corp.; and finally, 3D printed at the Center for Innovative Materials Processing (CIMP-3D). Without these organizations working together in collaboration, the bracket might never have been printed.
Many 3D-printed parts have a story like this. Many 3D-printed parts might not exist if not for multiple parties coming together, each bringing their particular needs and expertise. The same might be said for AM technology, materials and applications at large. AM works best through collaboration, an idea that the editors of Additive Manufacturing sought to illustrate in the most recent issue of our print magazine. Stories in this issue highlight how different parties are coming together to share AM knowledge and advance the use of this technology:
- Through data. Additive manufacturing involves many, many variables, all of which can have an effect on the final part. Conventional qualification requirements tend to focus on process, but with AM, it makes more sense to focus on the outcome. Colorado’s Alliance for the Development of Additive Processing Technologies (ADAPT) Center is a public-private partnership collecting nonproprietary test data that will help make this a reality.
- As embedded service. Collaboration with AM is not just reserved for research institutes, however. For instance Azoth, newly formed sister organization to tool management company PSMI, is bringing polymer 3D printing into the tool cribs of its customers. Azoth customers can now order custom tools, fixtures, prototypes and even short runs of production parts made on these 3D printers without having to become AM experts themselves.
- With a network of suppliers. One company featured in this issue, Catalysis Additive Tooling, owns very little 3D-printing capacity itself. Instead, it is able to procure parts made on 3D-printed tooling through a network of partnerships. Catalysis serves as the customer’s single point of contact from product development through delivery, while managing all the relationships along the way that make this possible.
It’s also worth noting that this issue serves as Additive Manufacturing’s Buyer’s Guide, featuring profiles on suppliers and listings by category. New this year, we are featuring a category for companies that provide AM tooling and production services, in recognition of the fact that for many manufacturers “3D printing” does not necessarily mean “3D printing we do ourselves, in house.” Though not comprehensive, this list may serve as a place to start when looking for your business’s next partner in additive manufacturing.