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How Additive Manufacturing Is Like Five-Axis Machining

It’s not the similarities in the technologies, but in how they were and are being adopted.

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Parts built on DMG MORI Lasertec 30 SLM

Like five-axis machining, additive manufacturing’s adoption will accelerate as its best applications are identified. These metal parts were built on DMG MORI’s Lasertec 30 SLM powder-bed additive manufacturing machine.

“We used to ask ourselves ‘Five-axis machining is interesting, but what can I use it for?’” recalls Patrick Diederich, managing director of Sauer GmbH. The rapid adoption of the technology didn’t happen until designers and engineers began to understand its benefits, and to design products around the capability of five-axis machines.

“Now, the same is true for additive manufacturing,” he says. “As soon as companies begin to understand how to design parts to their advantage based on the capability of additive machines, the adoption will be huge.”

What still stands in the way of this understanding? Mr. Diederich cites several obstacles:

  • Knowledge of the possibilities that AM offers. As with five-axis machining, companies need to figure out the best applications and uses for additive manufacturing.
  • Materials. Manufacturing specifications for machining may suggest a material that is not suitable for AM; instead, it is better for designers to specify material properties and learn to work with AM materials.
  • Process control. In order for AM to be accepted, it is critical that the process be monitored and controlled to maintain the quality of parts made this way.

Read more about the advance of additive manufacturing, including a new selective laser melting system from DMG MORI, in this report from Barbara Schulz, European correspondent for Modern Machine Shop and Additive Manufacturing.

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