The CASTOR team
Solving Manufacturing Challenges with Metal 3D Printing
Updated: Mar 15
The latest report by SmarTech reveals that metal additive manufacturing market is evolving at a pace faster than any other technical segment, reaching $3.4 Billion in 2022. .Along with this trend of growth, however, various challenges still continue to slow down the full adoption of the technology.
Technology developments are fast and have made it possible to print in Steel, Titanium, Aluminum and Copper, through various printing technologies like SLM to DMLS, EBM. The optimal choice of material and technology depend on use-cases. Gaining up-to-date expertise in these processes, and identifying the right parts for metal AM is not easy, but is essential for finding the right business opportunities and leverage the full potential of metal 3D printing.
The industrial manufacturing segment is moving towards metal parts’ production via 3D printing. Metal AM provides lots of additional opportunities, especially for producing end-use manufacturing. Because of this, a high level of identification is required, taking into consideration all aspects that are crucial for producing metal parts - from geometry and material factors, to supply chain and economic considerations.
In correspondence with the trends of this market and the high demand for expert metal AM solutions, CASTOR has developed features aimed to help companies reveal metal additive manufacturing opportunities, ensuring full confidence in the final result.
These are CASTOR's new metal features:
Metal Post-Processing Analysis
Post-processing for metal parts is a very common procedure, as metal parts often need to have characteristics such as heat resistance, smoothness, etc. End-use metal parts must be produced with high precision, and post-process analysis stands as an integral element in analyzing a part’s 3D printability.
One unique and important aspect of metal parts' post-process analysis is the metal support structure removal. Supporting this capability, CASTOR not only checks that the part can be printed, but also that the support structures can be removed. CASTOR’s algorithm imitates a CNC milling machine to check if there is enough clearance for CNC machining to access the support structure.
Support structures are a significant pain point within the metal 3D printing process, since they generally require CNC milling to be removed successfully. Usually, a printing software can identify where the supports are located,, but does not indicate the level of difficulty or feasibility of their removal.
CASTOR’s software highlights areas that require CNC milling in the postprocess, and evaluates if the support structures can be removed. It also flags any areas that require special attention. In addition, if support structures can be removed, but the process will be extremely time-consuming or expensive, this will also be flagged by CASTOR. Without this analysis, a part could potentially be identified as suitable, undergo the entire process of manufacturing via 3D printing, but end up functioning improperly, because its supports can't fully or efficiently be removed.
Sheet Metal Detection
Sheet metal is a general category of metals formed by an industrial process into thin, flat pieces. CASTOR's algorithm is able to recognize and filter those sheet metal parts by detecting that these parts’ geometry matches the characteristics of sheet metal parts - for example - having thin-walled parts. These parts are most likely to not be cost-effective for 3D printing, since sheet metal fabrication has very low costs. CASTOR automates the screening process of parts for 3D printing, and makes it easier for its users to upload whole assemblies with minimal expertise required. It saves time by automatically detecting and filtering any irrelevant parts for 3D printing, while analyzing only the ones suitable for 3D printing.
CNC and Die Casting Costing Models
CASTOR's financial analysis includes the cost analysis of 3D printing technologies, using costing models based on CASTOR's proprietary algorithm. The financial report details the break-even point by specifying the precise number of parts needed to print in order for additive manufacturing to remain profitable, in comparison to traditional die casting or CNC. In addition, CASTOR also automatically identifies which traditional method is more suitable to compare with, based on the parts’ geometry and material analysis.
The cost analysis allows users to customize traditional manufacturing related costs such as inventory and shipment, and adjust the analysis for a better fit.
The addition of these features forms a new layer of intelligence within CASTOR's algorithm, and improves the entire process of automatically identifying metal parts, ensuring a high level of confidence in additive manufacturing.
To learn more about how CASTOR can automatically analyze your product design files to help your organization discover additive manufacturing opportunities visit www.3dcastor.com.