When I graduated with an engineering degree some decades ago, I learned that the organizations I was going to work for had internal communication problems. This was especially true for those that designed and manufactured complex machinery such as engines, aircraft, or automobiles.
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AS A TEAM OF FOUR MANUFACTURING engineering undergraduate students from Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA), we had our minds blown within seconds of walking onto the RAPID + TCT show floor when we attended the event, April 23-26, in Fort Worth, TX.
When the Italian company JDeal-Form (Oleggio, Italy) started using additive manufacturing to apply a micronized polymer coating to the underwire tips and bra straps it sold to brassiere makers, CTO Davide Ardizzoia grew frustrated with his AM vendor’s constant lateness.
Technology is changing ever more rapidly. Sometimes this means topics learned in engineering or technical school become obsolete. Whole new fields emerge within a few years, so that even those with freshly minted educations suddenly find themselves faced with new challenges.
In the near absence of academic programs to teach undergraduate engineering students additive manufacturing, a California-based startup has stepped in to help fill the void through internships.
A fused filament 3D printer has saved a custom outdoor lighting manufacturer tens of thousands of dollars a year, improving operations and winning more business. The purchase also helped retain customers who would previously have gone elsewhere for specialized parts.
Additive manufacturing lets companies think “outside the box.” Engineers can now start to look at a part without restrictions on size, shape or material. Instead of taking 15 different CNC milled parts and brazing them together, these companies have reimagined the part entirely—to be built as one part.
Modern manufacturing is rapidly adopting model-based definition (MBD). When employing an MBD strategy, the CAD model becomes more than the nominal to which all parts are measured and inspected against. MBD keeps the all-important digital thread intact—from design to manufacturing to inspection and quality reporting.
With today’s focus on lightweighting, hollow parts made from composite materials, such as ducting, fuel tanks, mandrels, and rocket shrouds, are in higher demand than ever before. The composite ducting market in the aerospace and defense sector alone is expected to reach $864.7 million by 2024, according to a recent report from Stratview Research.
If NASA’s Journey to Mars project succeeds, the astronauts who make the 140 million-mile (225 million-km) trip to the Red Planet in the 2030s will need someplace to stay. The space agency is looking at 3D printing, using on-site materials, to manufacture humanity’s first deep space home.