This video explores the third quadrant of the additive manufacturing framework: product evolution. Learn what path III is all about and why it is important. Explore the design limitations imposed by traditional manufacturing methods, and the ways in which additive manufacturing can address them in some situations. In doing so, we reveal some of the enhanced production capabilities additive manufacturing can deliver and identify some of the attributes of good candidates for product evolution.
- Welcome back. In this segment, we're going to continue our exploration of the additive manufacturing framework by examining Path Three, Product Evolution. I'll begin by reminding us exactly what Path Three is about, and then providing us with some examples of the attributes of additive manufacturing that are most important for the redesign of new products. We'll close with an examination of what some of the attributes of those products are that make them good candidates for additive manufacturing. Let's get started. Path Three, companies take advantage of the scope economics offered by additive manufacturing to achieve new levels of performance or innovation for the products that they produce.
Now, all things equal, it'd be nice to think that we always design products precisely for the function that we intend them to serve. But that's not always true. We also need to be able to manufacture them. And traditional manufacturing methods are subject to some important limitations. For example, in our tooling segment, I showed you the example of this heat exchanger. And during that segment, we pointed out that one attribute of the construction of this exchanger is that they're actually able to create a cooling channel that curves, maximizing or at least increasing the exposure of the fluid that passes through it to the heat exchanging lattice, thus improving the performance of the overall tool.
Now that's important because we also recognize at that time that, using traditional methods, we simply can't produce the product this way because we can only really drill in a straight line. We'd have to use some other method to assemble this part if we wanted to have those curved cooling channels in there. Maybe not what we want to pursue. Using additive manufacturing, we're able to build through that layer by layer process more complex parts. That allows us to do three things.
One, it allows us to do a better job of customizing the parts that we want to produce, we'll look at examples. Two, it allows us to develop more complex geometries, as I have mentioned. And three, it allows us to simplify components by eliminating the need to assemble them, again due to our ability to manage those complex parts. Now I've brought a couple of examples with me to show you how these elements of additive manufacturing actually play out in products.
Of course, I've already shown you the heat exchanger. Let's begin by taking a look at this universal gear that I got from our friends at Oak Ridge National Lab. There's a couple of interesting things to notice here. The first thing is, notice here where it says Oak Ridge National Laboratory on this side, and Manufacturing Demonstration Facility on that side. This lettering was actually produced as a by-product of the production process itself. There's no additional machining that goes in, and this product can be customized for different lettering applications depending on the whims of the designer itself.
Now let's take another look at something more detailed. Notice the inside fill here. And we see the letters O-R-N-L. That stands for Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Now I'd ask designers to think, where else do we see the ability to add this level of detail, inside it was essentially fill area within a product. The ability to customize products through design is an important aspect of what we can achieve with additive manufacturing. I then ask people to look to the inside of this gear set.
Notice the detail here. Notice the sprockets, and remember that this component comes out as a single piece. There's no subsequent machining once it comes out of the electron beam-melting unit. I asked people to think to themselves, what would it take to assemble this part, to get all these tiny spokes in here? How much time would it take? What would it cost? Is it even possible? I then would like to turn to this piece.
This is a fuel pump from a 1987 Camaro. It doesn't run, so it was no problem for me to bring it in for you today. This piece, as I count it, has 16 separate sub-components, including the bolts and washers that hold it together, this tag that identifies the model number, so we have a little bit of customization here. A cover sheet, and an internal set of, let's call them gears that move the oil inside the engine.
It's also pretty happy. Now I ask people to recognize, or to at least ask themselves, what would it take to manufacture this additively? If I could produce this universal gear set in this way, at this level of complexity, how hard would it be to redesign this part in a manner that reduces components, potentially reduces weight, and gives me a higher-performing customized oil pump? Something to think about. In general, when we look at parts, there's a couple of attributes that we want to think about that may make them good candidates for additive manufacturing.
Number one, a significant amount of customization being required. Number two, complex geometries, particularly internal geometries. Number three, the opportunity to simplify or reduce the number of parts, particularly fasteners and cover plates that go into the ultimate component. Now there are a couple of limitations or factors that you also want to consider as you look at those parts that have those attributes. Importantly, number one, support for the materials that you require in order for the part to serve its ultimate purpose.
And number two, the size limitations of the part, that is can we produce it using the production envelope, the size of the machine that we have access to in order to create it.
- What is additive manufacturing?
- Working with light-activated polymers
- Resin printing
- Modeling and extruding materials
- Fusing, melting, and sintering
- Binder jetting
- Laminating sheets
- Developing a product
- Shaping the direction of tooling
- Evolving a supply chain
- Evolving a product
- Evolving a business model