Once you have decided to go down the Metal Additive Manufacturing (AM) route, the next step is at least equally important. While «value for money» is often the most analysed criterion, the truth is, working with a solutions provider must go beyond this important argument. Indeed, not only is the market filled with companies offering AM services, but also confusion can quickly arise when one realizes there is also a wide range of metal AM technologies. What criteria should you use to favour one technology over another? And most importantly, how should/do you envision the future of your production with that Metal AM solution?
Size Does Matter!!!
Over the last years, Metal AM has gradually seen a shift from prototyping towards mainstream production technology for several industries such as medical, aerospace and automotive. Widespread industry adoption has however been focussed on relatively small sized components as the production of large sized metal parts wasn’t technically possible or economically attractive using powder-based processes.
The intrinsic benefits of AM (small lot sizes, inventory reduction, obsolescence management, etc.) are particularly appealing for large sized metal components used in industries such as oil & gas, maritime, energy, transport, mining, aerospace, or heavy industry. These industries often use castings or forgings which, depending on the environment they are used in, could be made of carbon or stainless steel, nickel-based alloys or even titanium. The fact is, the more complex the geometry becomes, the more the casting or forging process itself results in significant material waste, but also suffers from extended lead times and non-negligible failure rates. All of these constraints often lead manufacturers to explore manufacturing processes which could best meet these requirements.
Cost is important, quality is the best way to reduce it
Unlike most situations where “premium quality” is synonym of “expensive cost”, in this case, cost and quality are not conflicting but rather reinforce each other. Pursuing high quality is ultimately the best way to reduce costs. Indeed, when switching from Conventional Manufacturing (CM) to Additive Manufacturing (AM), the certification requirements imposed by the part’s severe operating conditions obviously need to be considered when assessing the business case. Depending on the criticality level of the component, certification might impose a substantial amount of destructive test samples to be produced alongside the actual part.
Through its process control software, Guaranteed is able to ensure part performance which significantly reduces the number of expensive trial-and-error loops. Being involved in various collaborative projects aiming at establishing clear certification guidelines for the use of AM in oil & gas, maritime, rail and mining industries, Guaranteed is driving this further to turn certification into an inherent part of its quality assurance framework. Process qualification, rather than single part qualification, will broaden the portfolio of AM parts and components, to achieve faster qualification and/ or certification than nowadays. In close partnership with leading universities, Guaranteed is developing the next generation of WAAM technology. The latter will allow deposition speeds to be increased even further without compromising on quality while dynamic mechanical properties will be enhanced beyond those of forged material by in-process microstructural manipulation technologies
Proof, not promises
As the proof of the pudding is in the eating, Guaranteed works in full transparency and close collaboration with its customers worldwide to analyse, optimise and share the learnings in each business case. For some of our customers this means that we will recommend considering repair or refurbishment rather than complete remanufacturing while for others the benefits of on demand spare part production will allow reducing warehousing costs and generate a direct impact on profitability as working capital requirements will be lowered resulting in additional cash flow.
Mitigating obsolescence issues either directly in ageing production equipment or indirectly in inventories by just-in-time manufacturing represents yet another way the services provided by Guaranteed can create value. Last but not least, the resource efficiency and CO2 emission savings resulting from working with Guaranteed provide a pathway to a more sustainable future by reducing the amount of primary and secondary emissions.
Read the full article here: Article on Guaranteed in 3D Adept Media