3D printing revolutionising spare parts supply
Additive manufacturing at the METAV 2016
Frankfurt am Main, 07 January 2016. – Together with the METAV, the “Inside 3D Printing” conference is being held at the Exhibition Centre in Düsseldorf on 24 and 25 February 2016. It will be offering a broad spectrum of presentations on additive manufacturing with metals and plastic components. This technology, also known as the layering process, appears to be absolutely predestined for spare parts supply and manufacturing parts on demand, since spare parts for long-lived industrial goods are often produced in advance for stock. By means of additive methods, any components required can be easily printed out, fast and flexibly, in any desired geometry: this is the experts’ vision for the future.
3D printing benefits the entire value creation chain
Ulli Klenk, Chairman of the Additive Manufacturing Working Group in the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), and in his day job General Manager Competence Center Additive Manufacturing in the Digital Factory Division of Siemens AG in Erlangen is confident: “Additive manufacturing (AM) offers companies completely new options and opportunities in terms of efficiency, speed, and flexibility. The entire value creation chain in the company benefits from these advantages: this subsumes not only development and manufacturing, but also and above all spare parts supply and service support.”
This means companies can swiftly manufacture not only prototypes, but also produce individualised products and spares. In commercial terms, too, this is an extremely interesting scenario: spare parts or components are produced only on demand and as close as possible to the place of use. Storage and dispatch costs are eliminated, as are delivery times. The administrative outlay required is reduced to a minimum. Nonetheless, despite the extensive media coverage, additive manufacturing is a niche issue, says Ulli Klenk.
One of the principal challenges for implementation is the materials. Basically, with the 3D printing processes nowadays established, parts can be manufactured from an enormous range of disparate materials, like metals, polymers or ceramics. Initial additively manufactured components are meanwhile being used in buses or aircraft turbines, for example.
The first practical applications of 3D printing for spare parts have also proved successful. One example is driver armrests for a railcar from Siemens AG. Experience has shown that original designs for components can still be subsequently optimised or customised in a 3D printing process. Eliminating tools and moulds enables entirely new design methods to be used. This means lighter, more stable components can be manufactured, for example. Customised modifications can also be quickly and easily implemented.
For printing spares, it’s essential that the 3D printing data are available in a format that can be read by a 3D printing machine. This, however, is not always the case. To quote Ulli Klenk: “Data have to be created and checked beforehand, which entails manual development work. This first-time process can easily take several weeks. Once the data are available, they can be transferred to the production machine over a data link.” The STL data format mostly used for this purpose nowadays, however, does not offer any specific copy protection. Theoretically, parts can be manufactured as often as desired, without the originator of the file finding out. Future processes will necessitate the originator’s also retaining control over “on which machines, at which manufacturer, at what time which part was produced how often and using what material”.
Given that 3D printing is fundamentally feasible for spare parts, the question arises of how far spare parts manufacturing can be relocated to where the spares concerned are needed. One important precondition in this context, says Ulli Klenk, “for producing a part in consistent quality at different locations and on different machines is the industrialisation of the entire 3D printing production chain.”
The manufacturing processes required have to have been mastered, and standards must ensure that the requisite quality is dependably produced. Standardisation of this kind is conditional upon a high level of process reliability and extensive options for process monitoring and quality assurance – combined with a high degree of automation along the entire process chain. These points, is AM expert Ulli Klenk’s succinct verdict, “have as yet been implemented only in rudimentary form”. And he clarifies: “Industrial-scale production of spare parts on globally distributed machines is a clear objective of many industrial companies, but at present is not yet state of the art.”
Spares production only an intermediate step?
Intensive research is being done on this, not least in the EU’s Repair Project, which will be presented by Dr. Eric Klemp, Executive Director of the Direct Manufacturing Research Centre (DMRC) at Paderborn University, and responsible for the programme of the “Inside 3D Printing” conference at the METAV 2016. He explains the problems involved from the viewpoint of this project: “In the Repair Project, the production of spare parts constitutes merely an intermediate step. The aim is to repair components and while doing so to re-use as much as possible of the material in the defective component concerned.”
To put it simply, then, a defect has to be identified, the component prepared for using a 3D printing process, the original geometry restored layer by layer, and the surface finally reworked. This will be made possible firstly by means of selective laser melting (SLM), and secondly by means of integrated laser deposition welding. To quote Dr. Klemp: “In this project, we’re working with different metallic alloys. We ourselves opted for this primary focus. What’s particularly challenging here is that component certification is conditional upon the original materials’ having to be used in the repair job.”
Don’t new types of spare part procurement demand entirely new service ideas and a new, effective approach to spare parts management? To quote Dr. Jens Pottebaum, Academic Senior Engineer at the Faculties of Computer Applications and Integration in Design and Planning (C.I.K.) and at the DMRC in Paderborn University: “3D printing will also entail corresponding changes, particularly in terms of maintenance work. However, the boundary conditions have to be taken into due account: the changes will probably prove to be not quite so impressive as the current hype might indicate.”
Repairs are a real possibility today, of course, but with 3D printing, the spectrum is significantly extended. In this step, it is even technologically possible to optimise a component during the course of the repair: “In this project, we’re working on a vision of demand-controlled repairs that are started by a failure process in the air and implemented on the ground. To be properly realistic, construction rates and commercial aspects have to be factored in here, so that inventory management will of course not be displaced entirely.”
The DMRC’s Executive Director, Dr. Eric Klemp, explains how this can function in actual practice: “Since in the Repair Project we are dealing with repairs to aircraft components, the regulatory boundary conditions permit only very limited latitude here. ‘Simply print it out quickly yourself’ can hardly be reconciled with the relevant requirements in regard to the approval and certification of processes and components. In other areas, we are proceeding on the assumption that both existing business models will be strengthened, but also new ones created in the field of technology-based services.”
The challenge involved in quickly and effectively creating the requisite 3D CAD data of the defective part for a repair job, says Dr. Pottebaum, “is being addressed by our project partner Avantys Engineering GmbH & Co. KG in Bad Lippspringe. From a comparison between a defective component analysed in a 3D scan and the original CAD data, the defect is computed and the new layers required are generated, which can then be manufactured by means of 3D printing.” For simple defects, this is possible by integrating existing components. For complex components or defects – such as torsion in a component – “this is sometimes possible only through interaction between man and machine”.
Research is being driven by various case studies. One practical example already completed is a mounting created by means of different processes and optimised for these processes. To quote Dr. Klemp: “This enables us to demonstrate the repair of existing components, but also, in the assumption that in future 3D-printed components, too, will be installed as a matter of course, to examine the repair process in regard to scenarios of this kind.”
At the METAV 2016, explains Jens Pottebaum, “we’ll be able to show case studies that we’ve been handling in conjunction with other players. Together with partners like SLM Solutions from Lübeck, we’re looking forward to demonstrating the technical solutions involved. We are also keen to showcase supporting components, for example, like a decision-making support system that helps its users to decide upon a suitable repair process. For us, by the way, METAV week begins in Paderborn: on 23 February, we shall there be spotlighting the repair solutions in a public workshop directly at the machines.”
Organisation better in the hands of service providers
Stefan Ritt, Head of Global Marketing and Communications at SLM Solutions GmbH, is predicting the emergence of new lines of business: “The organisational approach involved in spare parts logistics will have to be rethought. On-demand production of parts can assuredly be better placed in the hands of service providers, so as to be commercially viable.”
Stefan Ritt explains the practical procedure involved in a repair as follows: “Nowadays, in 99 per cent of cases, the CAD data are available in the design departments, and are transferred to the 3D printer over the internet. In an intermediate step, software conversion processes are performed on the data, but that doesn’t alter the principle involved. In the very rare cases where only paper drawings are available, the old part can be scanned so as to create the CAD data.”
At the METAV 2016, SLM will be showcasing multi-laser systems in actual operation, including what is “with a rating of 4 x 700 W simultaneous output the fastest and most productive system on the market – while also exhibiting the smallest overall dimensions in this segment. We are confident this will be much appreciated by the visitors. We shall be using practical examples of components to communicate to the visitors the technology’s performative capabilities and complexity. We are here anticipating keen interest from metalworking companies and customers”.
Author: Walter Frick, specialist journalist from Weikersheim
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METAV 2016 in Düsseldorf
The METAV 2016 – the 19th International Exhibition for Metalworking Technologies – will be held in Düsseldorf from 23 to 27 February. It showcases the entire spectrum of production technology. The principal focuses are machine tools, production systems, high-precision tools, automated material flows, computer technology, industrial electronics, and accessories, complemented by the new themes of Moulding, Medical, Additive Manufacturing and Quality, which are now permanently anchored in what are called “areas” with their own nomenclature in the METAV’s exhibition programme. The METAV’s target group for visitors includes all branches of industry that work metal, particularly machinery and plant manufacturers, the automotive industry and its component suppliers, aerospace, the electrical engineering industry, energy and medical technologies, tool and mould-making, plus metalworking and the craft sector.
Additive Manufacturing Area at the METAV
Additive Manufacturing (AM) is currently a much-discussed topic in the industrial sector and the media. As another building block in the industrial value creation chain, the process is gaining steadily in perceived importance. It is being more and more frequently adopted in industrial production operations for small series, in the automotive and aircraft industries, for example, in machinery and tool manufacture or in medical technology. In order to showcase this development appropriately, there will be a dedicated Additive Manufacturing Area at the METAV 2016. It will be showcasing the entire bandwidth of additive processes, materials and services themed around 3D printing. Almost all front-ranking manufacturers in the sector will be represented at the METAV 2016. This includes companies like Altair Engineering, Citim, Concept Laser, EOS, Höganäs, Keyence, Renishaw, SLM and Trumpf. Another highlight in the context of additive manufacturing is the bestowal of the second International Additive Manufacturing Award (IAMA) within the framework of the Inside 3D Printing Conference. The IAMA was premiered in 2014 as a joint initiative of the VDW and the American Association for Manufacturing Technology: every year, alternately in the USA and Germany, it honours innovators from the specialist world of AM, and is worth 100,000 US-dollars.
Further information under www.metav.de
Inside 3D Printing Conference 2016
The Inside 3D Printing Conference will be held at the Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre on 24 and 25 February 2016, in parallel to the METAV. It will offer a complete conference package responsively themed around additive manufacturing with metals and plastic components. The core sectors to be addressed at this conference are aviation, the automotive industry, the machine tool industry and medical technology. To quote Dr. Eric Klemp, who is responsible for the programme at the Inside 3D Printing: “Visitors to the Inside 3D Printing will want to explore the limits of the methods currently available for 3D printing – in terms of both technology and commercial viability.”
Further information underhttp://inside3dprinting.de/de
Direct Manufacturing Research Centre (DMRC)
The DMRC was set up in 2008 by Boeing, EOS Electro Optical Systems, Evonik Industries and SLM Solutions GmbH, plus Paderborn University. The DMRC is a research centre, tapping into the expertise of its partners from the industrial sector and the academic community, so as to integrate additive manufacturing processes as options ready for series production. The DMRC’s specific goals are: design-enhancement of crucial technical advances for utilising direct manufacturing (DM) in series production, integrating and transferring AM technologies to new and existing companies, fostering the corresponding paradigm shift from production-referenced to function-referenced design, training and skilling a new generation of engineers. Conducting independent market studies and evaluations of methods and processes, creating scenario projections for the future of DM.
Further information under www.dmrc.de
Additive Manufacturing Working Group in the VDMA, Frankfurt am Main
The Additive Manufacturing Working Group brings together all parties involved along the value creation chain for industrial-scale additive manufacturing: both researchers and material vendors, equipment manufacturers and service providers, all the way through to users from the machinery and plant manufacturing sector. Currently, 90 members of the Additive Manufacturing WG are benefiting primarily from know-how transfer. Their work focuses principally on the topics of automation and machine acceptance-testing for additive manufacturing.
Further information underhttp://am.vdma.org
SLM Solutions Group, Lübeck
SLM Solutions Group AG is a leading vendor of metal-based additive production technology. The company concentrates on developing, assembling and selling machines and integrated complete-system solutions in the fields of selective laser melting plus vacuum and metal casting sysstemsƒ?
. SLM Solutions currently employs more than 240 people in Germany, the USA, Singapore, Russia and China. The products are used worldwide by customers in the aerospace sector, the energy sector, the health care sector, and the automotive industry. The company stands for technological progress, plus innovative, ultra-efficient integrated complete-system solutions.
Further information under www.slm-solutions.com
Your contact persons
VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association)
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Direct Manufacturing Research Centre
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C.I.K. / HNI-PE / DMRC
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Additive Manufacturing Working Group in the VDMA
Press and Public Relations
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60528 Frankfurt am Main
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SLM Solutions GmbH
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Editorial Office Frick
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