4 Biggest Challenges in Scaling Additive Manufacturing for Production

4 Biggest Challenges in Scaling Additive Manufacturing for Production

3D Printing or Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a process in which geometrically complicated things can be manufactured layer by layer based on 3D data collected by scanning tangible items or utilizing design tools. The elimination of production phases in additive manufacturing (AM) enables quick and fairly straightforward prototyping of real goods from 3D model designs and replicating existent things when opposed to ordinary manufacturing procedures.

 

Additive manufacturing (AM) processes have been increasingly popular for producing complex-shaped parts in various industrial sectors over the past twenty years. Companies are quickly turning to additive manufacturing for various reasons, including flexibility in design, resource efficiency, and feasibility in production losses. However, there are still several difficulties to address to get the most of AM in production.

Industry experts must address the fundamental hurdles outlined in this informative and insightful essay to achieve an undisturbed and productive AM process.

1. Limited Software Availability For Data Assemblage And Design

As straightforward as clicking a button appears, 3D printing is far from that simple. Since commercial 3D printing needs extensive design preparation before a model can be printed, it is not always possible to produce a model on the first try.

The design technique is made more complex because computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering applications have not been modified for 3d modeling for some time. Using traditional CAD tools to create elements made of graded materials, you can express porosity or create lattice structures.

A comprehensive guide to the AM design has several processes that are frequently hindered by the need to use a range of software solutions.

For instance, a designer could create a solid layout in their CAD platform and then transform it into a 3-dimensional model to do printability checks. By improving the construction, adding supports, and running simulations, the weight of the structure can be reduced. Various tools, software platforms, and file types will be required at these stages.

Consider running modeling and realizing that the results corroborate a construction flaw, needing a change in a certain strategy or support system to avert it. As a result, you’ll have to go through all of the procedures and programs again to make some changes and make the design printable.

Designing becomes cumbersome and prone to errors because of the need to process the AM design data across multiple software systems.

Despite tremendous progress being made in additive manufacturing design and print preparation, there is always a potential for improvement. Making it possible for designers to edit 3D models within the CAD environment and iterate them fast without the need for time-consuming data conversion would be critical in eliminating the design preparation difficulties that have plagued the industry in the past.

2. Scarcity of Quality Material For Continuous Development

Another problem facing the Additive Manufacturing industry is the lack of readily available materials appropriate for the process. Compared to conventional manufacturing processes, which have been subjected to years of advanced materials, the Additive Manufacturing material effect has only recently begun to manifest itself.

The developments in high-performance 3D printing polymer and structural components are an exciting trend. Carbon-reinforced polymers, which have strength similar to metals, are being developed by large chemical corporations such as Arkema, BASF, and DuPont.

Even though more materials are becoming accessible, there are still many irregularities in the properties of printable materials. A robust database of materials with established printing parameters and stated specifications is currently lacking in the industry. As a result, achieving a uniform and reproducible printing process becomes difficult.

However, until they are confident that the material qualities meet the industry’s stated and accepted norms and standards, most manufacturers will be hesitant to employ the technology. Developing an AM material database containing data on mechanical and thermal properties and parameters for effective printing is the only way to move ahead.

Aiming for this is something that the 3D printing industry is working towards. Several requirements for metal powders such as nickel, titanium, and stainless steel have been issued by yardstick-setting organizations such as ISO and ASTM.

Achieving this level of research will ultimately assure that additive manufacturing materials can meet manufacturers’ performance and reliability requirements.

3. No Quality Assurance On Finished Products

The production methods of CNC machining and injection molding are well-known. Meanwhile, 3D printing presents a novel method of producing parts. In addition to new possibilities, the technique introduces novel faults that have not previously been identified in conventional production, resulting in variations in product integrity from one manufacturing batch to another.

In the case of metal 3d modeling, this is unavoidable. Powder stuck inside a piece, cracks, and partial fusion are all metal AM flaws.

Material chemistry is one of the most essential factors to consider when it comes to variations in component quality. Materials used in security applications, like airplane parts or medical equipment, must be structurally sound and free of contaminants.

Contaminations in the feedstock, which can be produced by incorrect storage, processing, or doubtful feedstock quality, might change the qualities of the final section, leading to a faulty print.

A consistent set of test procedures and tools is required to ensure the consistency of the material’s quality, something that the industry now lacks in abundance. Users of additive manufacturing are teaming up with reputable testing facilities, if the resources are at their disposal, to create the requisite knowledge in-house to solve these challenges.

4. Inadequate Digital Infrastructure

Companies that want to employ 3D printing in production must have the appropriate digital structures in place to run their 3D printing operations properly.

Many businesses are putting together this sort of structure by utilizing information technology products and services. The majority of the time, these solutions have been built with the needs of traditional manufacturing in mind, and as a result, they are not suitable for the processes of 3D printing.

The industry has been working on process software solutions, especially for 3D printing, to address this issue. From request management to printability analysis and machine analytics to production scheduling, post-processing management, and connecting with suppliers, such software aids in the administration of the complete process.

This allows a company to have a central production planning and monitoring system, which allows it to track parts and see projects, allowing for improved transparency and accountability.

It is quickly becoming clear that process management software will be one of the most important solutions in developing the digital structure for additive manufacturing (AM). It improves daily efficiency as it aids data synchronization across systems, making AM integration much easier.

Conclusion

3D printing faces numerous challenges as an upcoming technology, but the best part is that the industry is enthusiastic about overcoming them. Since the 2000s, the industry has made significant strides forward, producing better and improved systems, introducing new materials and solutions, and growing the number of certified criteria.

A significant amount of work has also been put forward to close knowledge gaps and develop a new generation of AM experts. The industry is getting more concentrated as companies seek to collaborate to develop solutions.

Everything about this indicates that the industry is flourishing and will continue to expand and evolve in the years ahead.

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July 2022
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