3D printing has been gaining popularity as a technology which is easy to implement and improves company competitiveness.
The concept of Industry 4.0
Every year there are more companies to implement various innovations in their operation – data analytics or the Internet of Things. More technologically advanced 3D printers are employed in different sectors for prototyping, making small series of products and tools, production of spare parts or to reduce machinery downtime.
Recent innovations in 3D printing (higher printing speed, reduced operating costs and implementation of new filaments) made it possible to commercialise the technology on a larger scale, mainly through its industrial use. According to experts the market will grow to 20 billion dollars by 2020. Implementation of 3D printing in companies is fairly easy and the scope of possible uses of this technology very wide.
3D printing in R&D departments
3D printing technology is often employed in corporate R&D departments. Designers and engineers use it on the stage of new solutions designing and testing to reduce a new product launching time. New functionalities and modular construction of printers make them not only good tools for prototyping but also for developing end products or components for the aerospace, railway, automotive and electrical engineering industries.
Manufacturers of machines, trains, cars or aircraft are nowadays looking for durable, economical and comfortable solutions which ensure quick operation. Modern industrial 3D printers respond to the needs of the industry. Nonetheless, entrepreneurs are often sceptical towards such innovations. They are not sure if 3D-printed components will be really durable. They are also concerned about expenditure. A 3D printer is by no means cheap. Some think that the changing production needs and the will to use other materials will entail a printer replacement.
3DGence faces such needs and has introduced replaceable printing modules into its equipment. This way a 3D industrial printer such as 3DGence INDUSTRY F340 can be used for printing from a wide range of engineering materials – it only takes to replace a module and not the whole device. The possibility of printing from PEEK or PA-CF helps to obtain robust 3D models with high mechanical characteristics. Another module with a wider head diameter enables making ABS items within much shorter time.
Mikołaj Skorupa, 3D Printing Application Engineer, 3DGence
ESM-10 – soluble support materials
Water-soluble support materials which enable printing of complex geometrical shapes that cannot be created in traditional production opened new opportunities for 3D printing. Owing to an automatic calibration system working with the printer has become much easier.
Professional 3D printer in production companies
There are also many examples of Polish implementation of 3D printing. Fabryka Motocykli Elektrycznych (LEM), operating at the Wrocław University of Technology, prints motorcycle bodies in 3D thus avoiding long-lasting works on mould creation and production of finished components. MB Aerospace Poland uses additive technology to produce prototypes or accessories for fixing parts to CNC machines and to test new solutions.
EMTEL Śliwa makes 3D-printed choke cores, which are specialised components for defibrillators, heart monitors casings and tools facilitating work of electrical engineers. Bocar, which is another customer of 3DGence, has found an interesting application for 3D printers – they print prototypes of plastic subassemblies and rubber components for fire engines on the stage of designing as well as end products.
The 3D printing technology has been strongly evolving recently. We remember its beginnings when minor plastic parts were printed. Nowadays, owing to good printers, training and a growing number of qualified staff who know the tricks of the trade, 3D printing is used for production of cars, aircrafts and materials for military purposes.
Mateusz Sidorowicz, Marketing Director, 3DGence
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3D printing has a great potential and that is why it must not be neglected. Despite the fact that good equipment means significant investment those who will be the first to implement the technology in their plants can gain a lot as compared to their competitors.