While we await for the pandemic to be over and start life as usual, We must realize the Usual is not what it has been before the pandemic.
There has been a lot of disruption and new Seeds which are sown in terms of government policies and education policies which impact the manufacturing of tomorrow.
We are witnessing a shift from Mass manufacturing to value engineering and customized manufacturing.
New Technologies are making design and New product development than before. Industry 4.0 is going to involve new technologies like A.I, IOT, Q4.0, AM, Cloud, ML, Digital Design to Digital Inventory.
Digital 3d Design is ensuring possibility of the most creative designs and concepts to be given a digital life.
With Technologies like A.I, a digital roadmap can be created and experienced. The biggest challenge for any digital design is establishing a working model and a manufacturing roadmap.
This challenge can now be faced using Additive manufacturing technologies for many an applications.
In this Blog series, we will take few applications where we can find the direct use of Additive manufacturing using specialized 3d printers for manufacturing process justified and disruptive against Conventional methods.
Plastic Injection Molded Plastic Parts
Normal manufacturing process of Plastic components is by Injection molding. Let’s understand this process before comparison.
In Injection molding following steps is necessary
- Product Design – DFMA- To avoid failures during Injection Moulding
- Preparing Prototype- Through Machining or Soft tool Injection Moulding
- Mould Design- With Inserts, Drafts, Gates, multiple core
- Setting the Mold in Injection Molding Machine
- Cleaning, Finishing of components.
Now the above steps can be further broken down to the manpower and other requirements
Now, If we see the breakup of above steps, we find that every component needs few months to actually come into production. At each stage before mould setting, iterations are possible due to multiple design validations and also errors. This further increase the required time to production.
Now AM has been utilized as a Prototyping tool during design stage thus reducing the Step#2 from weeks to days. Also, Iterations are normally done in the same time.
This still does not reduce the time taken from Steps 3 to 8 which again is months. Today with developments in CAD Software, Virtual prototyping is also possible.
There is also a perennial issue of Inventory and supply chain management (Vendor as well as client) as the conventional methods make sure that you manufacture large quantities of components to justify the production costs due to the above seen steps.
Enter AM Technology, which ensures reduction in time to production and also help maintain digital inventory with On-Demand Production.
Figure – 4 is one such Technology which is born out of this need. Figure 4 is an ultra-fast projection-based additive manufacturing (AM) technology . Figure 4 uses a non-contact membrane to combine accuracy and amazing detail ﬁdelity with fast print speeds.
Yet going from prototype to production is a multi-step process. Finding the right approach to move from design veriﬁcation, to functional prototyping, to end- use parts requires the convergence of multiple variables. Beyond part accuracy, repeatability, and operational costs, suitable materials are paramount.
Each Figure 4 production material are tested for the below
- Mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties (including ﬂammability, dielectric properties, and 24-hour water absorption);
- Isotropic properties;
- Long-term indoor and outdoor environmental stability;
- Chemical and automotive ﬂuid compatibility;
The full suite of mechanical properties included in Figure 4 production materials datasheets are given per industry standards such as ASTM and ISO test standards.
Hence what once took few months to get the final part manufactured can be done in days using Figure 4 3D Printers.
Of course there are other AM machines which too justify for such requirements and will be covered in the upcoming blogs of this series.