There are a lot of people we talk to that are very excited about what additive manufacturing is doing to the world. The question that never seems to get asked is the most import. “How do WE get this into our company”. The first response is you have to acknowledge that what we do and how we do it today has rules that we have all accepted and just carry on every day like there are no limiting factors…but there are!
We can identify that with something, like injection molding, we always look at ways to part it, removal from the mold, flow lines (for aesthetics) and so on. A misconception is that 3D printing and additive manufacturing has no limiting factors. That’s a dream but there are limiting factors. Cost can be on the top of the list and with HP and MJF technology we can get past that hurdle and actually start to implement the notion of how best to utilize additive.
Besides these obvious benefits that most people understand, how do we justify it as a viable resource in a company? The usual comparison is taking an existing part and comparing it to how much it would cost to make with MJF. This is fair but after we have some good discussions about that a light bulb usually goes on in a person’s creativity area of the brain. This is unusual for most engineering departments in my experience…I mean…we can be creative? All jokes aside, this is where the conversation switches to a more purposeful discussion about making what can’t exist or a shift in mindset towards the actual application of additive.
Identify the right application for business. Besides prototyping, you can make things like spare parts for your own machines or parts for customers for repairs on demand. Important factors to consider, low volume runs mean less capital is held up on shelves in storage. Print as needed and move towards a digital inventory.
Low volume runs and new design ideas can be created and sustain a new business idea until a large assembly line might be required. The MJF system can supplement those types of activities.
Another advantage provided is design freedom from not having the same limitations as mentioned above. You can lightweight parts by having a lattice structure as opposed to a solid fill. This provides the same strength required for structure and a lot lower weight and material savings. Maybe even move from a metal like aluminium to nylon?
You can combine parts into one. Parts can be printed pre-assembled allowing for savings on labour and also does not provide a seam where an assembly might traditionally fail with older production methods.
You could have parts that function better for air and fluid dynamics. Something that better matches a flow CFD computation.
I’m sure there are ideas in your head right now. It is important to identify that the need for affordable, strong, reliable part quality is attainable through the use of HP’s MJF technology. It cannot be ignored, and it is important to identify where this technology could be used in your company. Designfusion can offer workshops on Designing for Additive Manufacturing in your company, or come to a seminar that we host at our showroom and see everything and ask all the questions you may have to our experts.
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