18-03-19 3D METAL PARTS
Cummins has sold its first metal part printed on one of its own 3D printers, moving the company a significant step closer to the exciting potential of additive manufacturing.
The part was a low-volume bracket for a customer in Parts division and did not have a current supplier. The company is focusing first on printing low-volume parts as it studies how best to use 3D technology in higher volume manufacturing.
Parts can be made lighter, stronger and more effective using metal 3D printing compared to parts created using more traditional methods that employ molds, molten metal and equipment to precisely cut and shape the part.
3D printing creates three-dimensional objects one ultra-thin layer at a time. If the part doesn’t come out quite right, the designer can simply change the computer design file and print it again; a much faster process than using traditional manufacturing techniques to build a test part.
At Cummins, Industry 4.0 includes everything from collaborative robots to artificial intelligence, augmented reality and the enhanced integration between information technologies and manufacturing operations.
Remanufactured engines and parts provide customers with a low-cost option compared to new parts and engines to meet their power needs. They also require far less energy to produce than new parts while keeping products in use and out of landfills.
The tech center at San Luis Potosi only opened in 2017 and the company has already built an addition for the printers. Cummins plans to print parts there that no longer have a supplier or are made on an extremely limited basis.
(...) He said metal 3D printing will potentially shave months off the process for customers to get low volume parts.
This CEO is looking at how the printers could work in high-volume settings. He says that will likely mean investing in the next generation of printers. Binder jet printers use an adhesive between powder layers, which can increase printing speed 20 times or more over the printers the company currently owns.
It’s that next generation of technology that could make a seismic change in manufacturing. From a supply chain perspective, it means parts are printed on demand, or closer to demand, so fewer parts would need to be stored for use at manufacturing plants.
From an environmental perspective, additive manufacturing also means less waste because the cutting required as part of the tool and die process is eliminated. And it could mean fewer resources used for transportation because parts are no longer made in one location and shipped to another.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, metal 3D printing enables geometry not possible with traditional methods, creating opportunities to improve product performance.
Dr. Adeola 'Addy' Olubamiji is Cummins first engineer hired for a full-time position in metal additive manufacturing development. She is based at the Cummins Technical Center in Columbus.
It becomes significantly easier, for example, to design in weight where it’s needed and take weight out where it’s not, said Dr. Adeola 'Addy' Olubamiji, Cummins’ first engineer hired for a full-time position in metal additive manufacturing development. It also means potentially bypassing those connecting parts unavoidable using traditional manufacturing techniques.
When might 3D technology come to high volume manufacturing?
“It’s coming faster than many of us might believe,” Boas said. “I’m thinking as soon as five years. We are at the start of a really interesting time in manufacturing.”
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