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Additive Manufacturing for Stronger, Lighter and Better Parts

Improve operational flexibility and agility with on-demand manufacturing

Additive manufacturing or 3D printing has come a long way since its introduction in the 1980s. As the technology matured in the last two decades, mainstream manufacturers are now adopting it to overcome the constraints of traditional manufacturing. We speak to Jean-Marc Cauzac and Dominique Galmel for their thoughts on how manufacturers can use additive manufacturing (AM) to their advantage, from an innovation and business perspective.

Jean-Marc Cauzac, Manufacturing Consultant, Dassault Systèmes

Jean-Marc has been with Dassault Systèmes for over 30 years. He currently handles the fabrication portfolio and specializes in the additive and subtractive manufacturing domains.

Dominique Galmel, Solution Director, Industrial Equipment, Dassault Systèmes

Dominique has 20 years of experience working with Dassault Systèmes in the industrial equipment, construction, farming, aerospace and automotive industries. He supports customers with industry experiences to improve their manufacturing processes.

Research by Essentium shows that two-thirds of companies have more than doubled their use of industrial-scale AM over the past year. Tell us about this trend.

DG: It is now possible to produce metallic parts using AM. The aerospace and defense industry is leading the way in using AM to produce parts for end-use. However, replication difficulty and deformation hinder the implementation of AM for large-scale manufacturing.

How can data and analytics help manufacturers set up their operations for AM? How does Dassault Systèmes' solutions support this and ensure maximized ROI?

JM: It is important to realize that the attraction to AM is not the same for different domains. Weight reduction and optimization are the key drivers in aerospace and defense. Both improve performance and reduce costly fuel consumption.

Manufacturers that want to deploy AM need to be clear about what it can contribute to their production and business. For marine and offshore, this would mean the ability to quickly print spare parts to replace damaged ones. As more than one million parts can make up an oilrig, it is impossible — and not cost-effective — to keep spare parts for all of them on the platform. Requests for replacement parts from suppliers may also take days or weeks.

DG: Adding to that point, storing parts that may not be used for long periods is money left on the shelf. So it’s certainly beneficial to use AM to produce parts only when they’re needed.

The reality is, AM is still costly and time-consuming for most manufacturers. Instead of adopting AM as a new way to make parts, they can combine AM and traditional manufacturing for the best results. An example is in tire mold production, which applies AM to make components that cannot be shaped using traditional techniques.

AM is moving beyond prototyping and is increasingly used to create functional parts. How can Dassault Systèmes’ solutions build confidence for manufacturers thinking of implementing AM?

JM: Our integrated 3DEXPERIENCE® platform offers manufacturers “insurance” through certification and replication capabilities. All processes and simulations are stored on the platform, so if an item needs to be reprinted in the future, the manufacturer can extract all the machine parameters used before to get the same results.

According to EY’s Global 3D Printing Report 2019, AM has an impact on the entire supply chain, particularly how parts are stored: 48 percent of companies hope to digitize their stocks and produce on demand, while 5 percent think that 3D printing reduces logistics and transport efforts. How will AM change the supply chain?

JM: In traditional manufacturing, production begins with a big block of material, which needs to be stored somewhere, ready for use. When the material is worked on, most of it will be removed. In the aerospace industry, that’s around 90 percent, so there is much wastage.

In one case, a supplier was using a 5 kg (11 lbs) block and losing 4 kg (8.8 lbs) to produce a 1 kg (2.2 lbs) part. With AM, they need only 1.1 kg (2.42 lbs) of powder with just 0.2 kg (0.44 lb) of chips removed.

Furthermore, storing 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of powder takes up less storage space compared to a 5 kg block. Don’t forget — materials also need to be transported, so AM reduces logistics costs, fuel consumption and carbon impact.

What is the biggest improvement or advancement in AM technology?

JM: Metal deposition is opening up more opportunities for manufacturers that previously relied on the powder bed. They are no longer limited by product size and the manufacturing environment. They’re now able to produce and repair bigger parts such as blades for wind turbines.

Much of new 3D printing work is geared towards end-user applications. For example, a consumer could walk into a shoe store and get the perfect fit using a customized insole, which can be 3D-printed in just a few hours. Is this customization a threat to large-scale manufacturers?

JM: Not necessarily. AM is adding the capability to provide exactly what the customer wants to the industry. It is complementary. There’s mass customization of industrial equipment at the factory level and personalization for consumers at the retail level.

How can other sectors emulate the aerospace and defense industry’s success in implementing AM and enjoying its benefits?

JM: AM generates vast amounts of data with countless iterations, each with a different impact. With Dassault Systèmes’ solutions that enable automation and simulation, processes will be updated every time something is changed. For example, we developed several prototypes for COVID-19 masks. When a user’s face is scanned, the manufacturing process is updated to print according to the facial morphology. Our simulation solutions also help to validate parts so that they are printed right the first time, which minimizes wastage.

What can Dassault Systèmes’ customers expect from implementing AM on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform?

JM: We cover the entire process from end to end. Our BIOVIA scientific software defines all powder characteristics while SIMULIA simulates what will happen on the machine.

Topological optimization creates organic shapes with optimized weight and performance. With data streamlined and stored on the platform, manufacturers can reuse data to make future process of reprinting the same item more efficient. The captured data includes the 3D printer’s characteristics (number of lasers, their specifications and the available working envelope), material (particle size, fusion point, melting point and other factors) and laser path (back-and-forth, helical, contouring and morphing).

Besides that, in the last 40 years, Dassault Systèmes has been the preferred and trusted partner to a majority of companies in the aerospace industry — and this is the industry that led the way with AM.

This level of confidence and decades of research and development makes us the right partner for companies embarking on AM.

DG: The 3DEXPERINCE platform offers two levels of integration. The first is integrating complete process and information flow from material research up to production of parts using optimization and simulation. The second is integrating AM into the overall product development that includes other production techniques such as stamping or molding.

Dassault Systèmes’ vision is to harmonize product, nature and life. How can we help expedite AM innovations to reduce wastage and increase efficiency?

JM: Besides waste reduction in the production process, with AM, products can be manufactured closer to where they’re needed using manufacturing data sent to the closest manufacturing site. Printing of spare parts also enables damaged parts to be repaired instead of replaced. Weight optimization in aerospace and automotive also results in lighter parts and lower fuel consumption. Renault Trucks was able to redesign its DTI 5 Euro 6 engine and reduce its weight by 120 kg (265 lbs) and the number of parts by 200 units.

DG: We can provide tools to help chemical companies develop new materials that are more environmentally friendly. Additionally, we can also simulate the development of manufacturing plants to produce less waste and contribute to the circular economy.

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