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Discrete Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing without a 3D printer: Impossible parts

Advanced motion controls, real-time sensing and monitoring, and quality assurance add value to additive manufacturing (3D printing) machines that use metals and can cost well over $1 million, and available through contract manufacturers.

By Mark T. Hoske July 10, 2021
Courtesy: Velo3D

 

Learning Objectives

  • Contract manufacturers enable additive manufacturing benefits without buying a 3D printer.
  • Foundry-grade aluminum is among metals available, along with tool steel, stainless steel, cobalt-chrome and others.
  • “Impossible” parts are being printed in metal with additive manufacturing.

Contract manufacturers Addman Engineering, Chromalloy, Duncan Machine, Knust-Godwin, PWR and Wagner Machine Co. are among those offering 3D manufacturing services with high-value metal parts. Advanced motion controls, real-time sensing and monitoring, and quality assurance add value to additive manufacturing (3D printing) machines that use metals and can cost well over $1 million. Contract parts services make those advanced capabilities available without purchase of a 3D metal printer.

Velo3D, maker of additive manufacturing machines, cited Wagner Machine CEO Kurt Wagner as saying, “We recently had a customer ask us to make a brazed assembly that was impossible due to space constraints and other requirements. We suggested 3D printing, which was their original plan, but other 3D printing companies they consulted said the part would be impossible to print due to thin walls and pressure requirements.”

Printing foundry-grade aluminum in 3D

Aluminum F357 is a foundry-grade, high-performance alloy certified for mission-critical applications, and Velo3D said its ability to accurately and repeatably print optimized parts from F357 frees designers and engineers in many industries to achieve part consolidation and performance requirements previously only imagined.

Mark Saberton, Addman CTO and founder, said, “The full-stack laser powder bed fusion 3D printing solution from VeloELO3D gives our customers the freedom they need to design the next generation of spacecraft and turbomachinery without compromising their designs for the sake of manufacturability.” The additive manufacturing technology “saves time and avoids waste by removing unnecessary steps, and reduces time to test or go to market, while also ensuring production-ready quality in every build,” Saberton added.

A Velo3D Sapphire additive manufacturing machine for advanced metal (AM) for high-value parts uses real-time monitoring of the 3D printing process using Velo3D integrated Assure quality assurance software. Courtesy: Velo3D

A Velo3D Sapphire additive manufacturing machine for advanced metal (AM) for high-value parts uses real-time monitoring of the 3D printing process using Velo3D integrated Assure quality assurance software. Courtesy: Velo3D

Addman’s metals list includes nickel alloys (Inconel 718, Inconel 625), aluminum (AlSi10Mg), stainless steels (316, 17-4), tool steel (Maraging Steel), and cobalt-chrome (CoCr) and additional custom material development is available upon request.

Mark T. Hoske is content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

KEYWORDS: Additive manufacturing, 3D printing, Industry 4.0, contract manufacturing

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Mark T. Hoske
Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.