THE POTENTIAL OF ADDITIVE
HOW IT WORKS
Additive Manufacturing – also known as 3D Printing –uses 3D design data to build components in layers of powdered materials (i.e., metals, plastics, and composites). Rather than removing material from a solid block, additive manufacturing “adds” layers of materials to build components.
Additive Manufacturing goes by many names including 3D Printing, Multi-Jet Fusion, Selective Laser Sintering, Electron Beam Melting, Direct Metal Laser Sintering and more.
THE BENEFITS OF ADDITIVE
Additive Manufacturing – also known as 3D Printing –uses 3D design data to build| Additive manufacturing offers many benefits. Learn exactly how the technology helps you achieve each of these goals:
EOS P 500
The automation-ready manufacturing platform for laser sintering of plastic parts on an industrial scale. Maximum productivity for processing polymers at operating temperatures of up to 300°C. Thanks to clever hardware interfaces and accessories, the uptime of the EOS P 500 increases by up to 75% compared to predecessor systems and competition models.
Create highly stable, lightweight structures that cannot be produced using conventional production processes.
Products should only use as many resources as are essential to perform their function. Because raw materials consumption, and therefore the prices for resources, is increasing enormously worldwide, this requirement in relation to product development and manufacturing is gaining increasing importance.
Additive Manufacturing technology from EOS can be used to build all kinds of detailed and complex lightweight structures. It offers developers maximum construction freedom. Early in the construction process it is possible to remove superfluous material from many components. This superfluous material is unavoidable when conventional manufacturing methods are used. In Additive Manufacturing, material is only applied in those places where it is required for functional reasons. This results in extremely light yet highly stable components. Users thus gain greater room to maneuver in construction and design.
Build extremely complex structures where design – not production – drives end results.
Complex geometries are three-dimensional structures that often feature undercuts or hollow spaces. These can be organic structures, for example. Many complex geometries can only be produced with limited success using conventional technologies like milling, turning or casting, or may involve excessive costs.
This is where the benefits of Additive Manufacturing (AM) become evident: Every possible form that can be constructed with a 3D CAD program can also be produced using innovative laser sintering technology. There are no restrictions, not even when it comes to the production of hollow structures. This is possible because material is only applied at the points where this is intended.
AM guarantees developers the greatest possible construction freedom. The overall size of the external geometry of a component is almost the only factor of relevance to cost. On the other hand, its complexity is of almost no relevance to production costs. It is often actually possible to reduce costs because less material is consumed. The complexity of a component no longer needs to be dictated by the manufacturing process, but rather by the required function and the product design. In general: The more complex the geometry of a component, the more worthwhile AM can be.
One application in the medical sector is the production of an artificial acetabular cup which is stable and, thanks to the complex surface structure, promotes osseointegration, in other words the knitting together of the bone tissue and the surface of the bone implant. The acetabular cup is designed with the help of the specialist WITHIN software. With the help of AM technology from EOS, the component can then be constructed from titanium according to the needs of each individual patient. The highly complex surface structure would be almost impossible to produce using conventional manufacturing methods.
The results speak for themselves: The acetabular cup consists of fixed sections that ensure optimum stability, as well as intentionally porous elements for improved osseointegration. Both sections are produced in a single production step. Many pores of different sizes help to anchor the implant: Larger pores are advantageous for transferring pressure, while smaller pores help with initial fixing. Another special feature of AM: structure, surface roughness and pore size can be set individually for each patient.
Move from idea to the finished prototype with no detours along the way.
One of the major advantages of Additive Manufacturing is that it is very easy to move from design to prototyping – production takes place directly on the basis of digital 3D data. It enables users to implement near-series tests and to optimize prototypes on the basis of the results.
During Additive Production, all components are produced on the basis of virtual models. On the one hand this makes it easy to carry out virtual stress tests. On the other hand, direct production allows for the rapid manufacture of prototypes with identical material properties to the finished product. The advantage of this construction process is the possibility of checking the function of the component in virtual or real terms at any time. Changes are easily made in the product development phase and – in comparison with conventionally made products – can be implemented at minimal extra cost.
The University of Stuttgart Formula racing team exploited the advantages of innovative EOS technology when building a reliable steering stub axle for their racing car. The final product was developed, optimized and built in a very short space of time and features a perfect design with 35 per cent weight saving and 20 per cent greater rigidity. It proved itself to be highly reliable on the race track. EOS technology certainly paid off for the racing team: their car was unbeatable in the 2012 season and took overall victory on the Hockenheimring circuit.
Integrate multiple components into one part eliminating or decreasing assembly.
Functional integration means implementing as many technical functions as possible into as few parts as possible. Additive Manufacturing (AM) offers a clear advantage for this requirement: laser sintering technology from EOS often allows all the required parts to be produced in a single step – including functional components like springs, hinged joints or even pneumatic actuators. This means that a large number of the otherwise necessary assembly steps can be dispensed with. This saves money and minimizes the likelihood of errors in production.
Here is an example to illustrate this: centrifuge manufacturer Hettich succeeded in significantly improving the cost-effectiveness of its serial production with AM. Centrifuges use the centrifugal force that applies to mixtures while being rotated to separate out the components. Typical applications are the preparation of blood samples or the production of a blood analysis. When manufactured in the conventional way, a washing rotor consists of 32 individual parts that must be assembled one-by-one. This requires complex tools and time-consuming assembly processes, particularly because the stainless-steel injection tubes must be carefully deburred. Hettich looked for a new solution and found one in AM from EOS. This enabled the manufacturer to reconstruct the washing rotor and to optimize it in such a way that many functions could be integrated in the components during production. The results speak for themselves:
- The new washing rotor consists of 3 instead of 32 assembly parts, two of which are produced by Hettich using AMM
- Improved product functionality
- Tools are no longer required
- No more costly deburring
- Much faster assembly and lower logistics costs
Generative manufacturing makes it possible to produce intermeshing structures that can operate together in an interactive way. Articulated joints, concatenated joints, stabilized springs or scissor-action mechanisms can be used in automation and production technology. This sector often calls for customized and complex devices for picking up, transporting and storing objects, as well as a host of similar tasks. However, conventional construction methods are not particularly well suited to Additive Manufacturing. Newly developed monolithic constructions allow the required degree of movement and are optimized for Additive Manufacturing. Other areas where additively manufactured structures with integrated functions can be successfully produced include sports equipment, medical technology and orthotic and prosthetic manufacturing, in other words wherever products need to be adapted to the human body.
Customize with just a programming change away.
Unlike conventional production processes, Additive Manufacturing (AM) from EOS does not require tools or molds. This means that innovative technology is independent of batch sizes. Products can be digitally customized and produced cost efficiently in small numbers or even as one-off designs.
The British company Digital Forming uses these capabilities: It has developed an online platform that allows two or more users to work together on designing products. One user acts as lead designer in defining the parameters within which the product can be changed. The software ensures that the structural integrity and functionality of the final products are maintained.
On the one hand, the platform can be used to design products together. On the other hand, design-oriented companies can individualize their product series and use AM systems from EOS to manufacture in series. This makes customized design a possibility for everyone.
Another example of the benefits of AM is the cost-efficient production of patient-specific denture components. BEGO USA produces hundreds of denture units per week. It does so on the basis of digital CAD data. Dentists send in an open STL file of a patient’s oral scan. After checking the data, BEGO USA produces the crown and delivers the replacement tooth – which is fully dense and without porosity – just 48 hours later.
This is made possible by a laser sintering system from EOS which builds up the crown or bridge layer-by-layer. BEGO USA succeeded in significantly increasing its productivity: While the traditional lost-wax technique limits production to about 20 units per day, the Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) system can be scaled up to 450 crowns and bridges per day. In addition, the EOS technology is extremely precise: the accuracy of the units produced is within a tolerance of +/–20 μm. In addition, the high-quality replacement tooth produced in this way is durable, strong and of a consistently high quality.
Reduce costs with less materials, no tools, no molds, no assembly – you don’t have to pay for complexity.
When conventional manufacturing processes such as milling, turning or casting, are used, the production costs are closely linked to the complexity of a part. The reason: It is generally necessary to produce complicated tools or complex specialized solutions. Such specially produced parts are used in many industries. They always represent a risk factor for suppliers because of the constant time pressure associated with prompt manufacturing.
Additive Manufacturing (AM) is the comprehensive solution to these problems: The laser sintering process, because it requires no tools, permits the fast, precise and cost-effective production of complex parts – even in smaller series or even batches as small as one unit. In AM almost the only relevant factor in terms of costs is the external geometry. On the other hand, the complexity of a part has almost no bearing on manufacturing time and costs. Complex lightweight structures can often actually reduce weight and save material costs.
AM technology at EOS enables extensive function integration, so that springs or hinged joints can be integrated in the parts during the production process. This makes it possible significantly to reduce the number of individual parts that make up a product. This not only reduces assembly costs significantly, but also the administrative effort, for example in ERP systems. The constructive revision or immediate reorganization of the parts in line with the new manufacturing technique means that the economic potential of Additive Manufacturing can be exploited to the greatest possible extent.
The construction of an injection mold for the production of cup holders illustrates the benefits of AM at EOS: manufacturer Innomia has used the technology to reduce the production time and therefore the costs. The EOS process has proven itself in practice and Innomia can benefit from faster and much more cost-efficient production:
- 43 per cent shorter cooling time (16 sec. instead of 28.5 sec.)
- 31 per cent shorter cycle time (26.5 sec. instead of 38.9 sec.)
- 43 per cent shorter production time for the injection mold (13 days instead of 23 days)
- Consistently high functionality
Obtain maximum construction freedom so critical to bionic technology.
Bionics uses solutions found in nature to solve technical problems. Evolutionary processes have produced a great range of broadly diverse biological structures:
Over one million animal species and around 500,000 different plant types are now known to us. These biological systems often have forms and structures that are perfectly adapted to their environments and that are developed with minimum use of materials and energy. The interdisciplinary field of research into bionics aims to exploit this enormous potential by adapting the natural blueprints to technical applications.
However, one problem remains: until now it has been very difficult, if not impossible, to produce the highly complex structures and shapes using conventional manufacturing processes. Additive Manufacturing meets this challenge for the first time: it offers developers almost unlimited construction freedom, while at the same time the production without tools saves time and costs. The ground-breaking technology permits genuine innovations in medicine, for example in the area of ergonomics, or in aviation, for example when it comes to aerodynamics.
One specific example of this is the manufacture of a bionic gripper that can pick up objects gently, flexibly and yet powerfully, and then place them down again. The form and function follow nature. The FORMIGA P 110 from EOS enabled automation specialists Festo to produce the parts they required in a small batch quickly and cost-efficiently. The results speak for themselves: thanks to the superior construction freedom, the production process is extremely flexible and can be adapted to the design. The integration of functions in the component directly during production meant that Festo was able to reduce the number of individual parts and the assembly effort involved significantly. The resulting gripper is lightweight and long-lasting. The price is also right: Festo managed to save time and money because no tools were required in the production process.
Klaus Müller-Lohmeier, Head of Advanced Prototyping Technology at Festo, is impressed:
“Laser sintering first made it possible for us to produce the bionic handling assistant and its gripper arm, the adaptive DHDG gripper. The complexity and the necessary integrated functionality of the parts meant that there was no alternative production method.”