The Best Applications of 3D Printing in Industrial Machinery Manufacturing Market
Updated: Mar 15
In the last article of our "AM Look-back on 2019" series, we explored the “Best Applications of 3D Printing in the Aerospace Industry”. This time we will explore some of the most interesting applications of additive manufacturing in the Machinery Industry during the last year.
The industrial machinery manufacturing market expected to reach a value of nearly $2748.88 billion by 2022, significantly growing at a CAGR of 43.9% in the next two years.
(Source: The Business Research Company)
Recent advancements in additive manufacturing technology have made it more accessible to a wide range of industries, including machinery. Tools that were once very costly and limited only to several high-tech businesses are now feasible options also for manufacturing.
The advantages of using 3D printing for manufacturing are many: higher speed and supply chain efficiency, lower set-up costs and waste reduction. As we will explain in this article, industrial machinery manufacturing has several aspects that distinguish it from other markets, in terms of the use and the potential impact of additive manufacturing.
Machine production is in some ways similar to the development of a new software, gradually progressing through alpha and beta stages to the release of the final product. Unlike applications of other industries, like automotive for instance, the final product is not released in one phase but in a multi-stage process. Within this process, production engineers constantly search for ways to reduce the production costs of the machine. This time frame, also called the NPI (new product introduction, i.e. the stage between design to mass production) phase, is ideal for exploring alternative ways for fabricating parts with the goal of improving profit margins.
It is important to emphasize that for the typical machinery manufacturer, the final, mass production quota of machines produced annually, consists of approximately few hundreds or several thousands of units. In such production volumes, almost any successful cost reduction effort obtained in the NPI phase will also be achieved on the mass production scale. This scale of production is also an optimal one for many 3D printing solutions. Hence, opting for 3D printing instead of traditional manufacturing methods can be an extremely beneficial way to reduce manufacturing costs and accelerate time to market.
Here are few examples from top-notch companies using additive manufacturing and their most interesting applications made in 2019.
Stanley Black & Decker
Stanley Black & Decker is one of the biggest manufacturers of hand tools, power tools and related accessories, engineered fastening systems and more.
Stanley Black & Decker’s first metal 3D printed production part was integrated after working with CASTOR to determine the 3D printability of Stanley’s parts. Using CASTOR’s automated part screening software, Stanley's engineers discovered new profitability in producing 3D printed parts. The software identified the wire lifter as a good candidate for Metal 3D Printing after performing both technical and financial analysis. It gave a recommendation for the best material and technology to print- in this case it was Maraging Steel (1.2709), at an EOS M-290 printer. Following the recommendation, Stanley managed to reduce almost 50% of the part’s cost, as well as to turn an 8 weeks lead time to 9 days only.
Stanley also worked with Markforged on finding the right applications and redesigning several parts for the Metal X printer. Eventually, two parts were found that were able to reduce costs - an actuator housing for the PD45 Hydraulic Post Driver and a wheel shaft for the PG10 Profile “Frog” Grinder.
The parts were redesigned in a way that allowed reduction of complexity. Instead of a four part assembly, the redesigned actuator housing prints in one piece without supports. The wheel shaft was designed into a three part assembly, saving 90% of the original usage, since traditional manufacturing caused 90% waste of material due to geometry. Both parts were successfully tested for durability and performance and were approved for production.
ABB is a technology leader in driving the digital transformation of industries, applying powerful solutions that optimize and improve design of 3D parts while reducing costs.
This year, ABB introduced new 3D printing capabilities with the RobotStudio simulation and offline programming software, enabling manufacturers to program ABB robots for additive manufacturing and 3D print in just 30 minutes. This means an operator can progress from the CAD design stage to final modelling of a product in just half an hour, without having to do manual programming.
Jabil is the 3rd largest contract manufacturer in the world and a well-known international force in manufacturing, software and services. Jabil provides solutions to OEMs in different industries, and has already became a massive user of additive manufacturing.
Like several other manufacturing companies, Jabil has turned to additive manufacturing to produce tools, jigs and fixtures in low volumes. Using Ultimaker machines for 3D printing these components, Jabil has already managed to reduce 80% of lead time and 40% of costs in these applications. Jabil plans to expand the use of this technology and produce all its tooling equipment using 3D printing in the near future.
On top of that, Jabil is also using 3D printing to produce end use parts to its customers, leveraging HP Multi Jet Fusion technology. Generally, managed to implement additive manufacturing in over 100 facilities around the world and operates more than two hundred (200) 3D printers. Plans are in place to increase this number even more.
We see machinery as the sweet spot of additive manufacturing, and believe that this industry holds a great potential for utilizing the advantages of 3D technology.
The Machinery Industry is characterized by highly-complex low-volume production, and by the lack of regulatory restrictions that stand in the way of other industries (like: medical, automotive and aerospace), it is an ideal candidate for adopting additive manufacturing.
Nowadays most manufacturers do not design the parts in their machines to be manufactured in Additive Manufacturing. So, until this day comes, identifying opportunities where 3D printing is more beneficial than the traditional manufacturing methods, can be a highly effective method to improve profit margins and reduce lead times.