Melbourne-based 3D printer signs deal with Boeing

Australian advanced manufacturing company Titomic Limited has announced it has signed an agreement with The Boeing Company to deliver additively manufacturing test parts for airplanes. This initial agreement is for AUD$170,000.
“Titomic is pleased to announce this trial agreement with Boeing to deliver additively manufacturing test parts for airplanes. Currently, with traditional manufacturing process, there is up to an 80% material waste and 6-month lead time to CNC machine these parts. These Titomic Kinetic Fusion (TKF) produced parts will allow Boeing a significant reduction in lead-times, improved performance for composite part production and cycle times,” Jeff Lang, Titomic Managing Director said.
Titomic recently unveiled the world’s largest and fastest 3d printer.

3D printed steel tools can cut titanium alloys

High strength cutting tools can now be 3D printed, potentially saving time and money for aerospace and Defence manufacturers.
RMIT University PhD candidate Jimmy Toton received the 2019 Young Defence Innovator Award and $15,000 prize at the Avalon International Airshow for the research, which was conducted with Defence Materials Technology Centre (DMTC) and industry partner Sutton Tools.
Because the metals used in Defence and aerospace are so strong, making high quality tools to cut them is a major, and expensive, challenge.
This collaborative project conducted at RMIT’s Advanced Manufacturing Precinct is the first convincing demonstration of 3D printed steel tools that can cut titanium alloys as well as, or in some cases better than, conventional steel tools.
“Now that we’ve shown what’s possible, the full potential of 3D printing can start being applied to this industry, where it could improve productivity and tool life while reducing cost,” said Toton.
The team’s high-performance steel milling cutters were made using Laser Metal Deposition technology, which works by feeding metal powder into a laser beam. As the laser moves and the metal solidifies at the trailing edge, a 3D object is built layer by layer.
This additive manufacturing process also allows for objects to be built with complex internal and external structures.
Toton overcame significant challenges in getting the layers to ‘print’ to form strong, crack-free parts as he took this from initial concept through to development.
He is now working towards establishing a print-to-order capability for Australia’s advanced manufacturing supply chains.
“Manufacturers need to take full advantage of these new opportunities to become or remain competitive, especially in cases where manufacturing costs are high,” said Toton.
“There is real opportunity now to be leading with this technology.”
DMTC chief executive officer, Dr Mark Hodge, said the importance of productivity and cost-efficiency to Australian manufacturers should not be underestimated.
“Supply chain innovations and advances like improved tooling capability all add up to meeting performance benchmarks and positioning Australian companies to win work in local and global supply chains,” he said.
“The costs of drills, milling cutters and other tooling over the life of major Defence equipment contracts can run into the tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars. This project opens the way to making these high-performing tools cheaper and faster, here in Australia.”
RMIT’s Advanced Manufacturing Precinct director and Toton’s supervisor, Professor Milan Brandt, said the work was a clear demonstration of the technology’s potential.
“Additive technology is rising globally and Jimmy’s project highlights a market where it can be applied to precisely because of the benefits that this technology offers over conventional manufacturing methods,” said Brandt.

Swinburne University: 3D concrete printing takes the ‘boring’ out of buildings

Construction is one of the largest industries in the world economy – worth $10 trillion globally – equivalent to 13 per cent of GDP.
But, Professor Jay Sanjayan, from Swinburne University of Technology, explains that construction has suffered for decades from remarkably poor productivity compared to other sectors.
While agriculture and manufacturing have increased productivity 10-15 times since the 1950s, construction remains stuck at the same level as 80 years ago, he said.
“That’s because construction remains largely manual, while manufacturing and other industries have made significant progress in the use of digital, sensing and automation technologies.
“We and other research groups see 3D-printed concrete as a possible solution to these problems. The technique will likely also give architects the freedom to inject more creativity into their designs for new structures,” said Sanjayan.
Modern civil infrastructure is almost entirely built with concrete. More than 20 billion tons of concrete is used per year, Sanjayan explains.
“The only material we use more than that is water.
“The construction industry is facing a number of serious problems, including low labour efficiency and high accident rates at construction sites.”
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the construction industry has the highest rate of work-related injuries at 59 per 1000 workers.
There are also difficulties in quality control at construction sites, high levels of waste and carbon emissions, cost blow-outs, and challenges in managing large worksites with a vanishing skilled workforce.
Disruptive technologies such as 3D concrete printing can offer solutions.
3D construction uses additive manufacturing techniques, which means objects are constructed by adding layers of material.
Conventional approaches to construction involve casting concrete into a mould.
But additive construction combines digital technology and new insights from materials technology to allow free-form construction without the use of formwork.
Eliminating the cost of formwork is the major economic driver of 3D concrete printing. Built using materials such as timber, formwork accounts for about 60 per cent of the total cost of concrete construction.
It’s also a significant source of waste, given that it is discarded sooner or later.

Automate x 3: your MHD article for this week

Antony Bourne

The Internet of Things (IoT) is being built into the product design, manufacturers are adopting a more service-centric business model, and 3D printing is reaching the tipping point of realising business benefits on a large scale. These are the three game-changing predictions that will dominate discussion in 2018.

  1. By the end of 2018, over 50 percent of manufacturers will be building IoT technology into the design phase of their products

When you think ‘IoT’, is your first thought newly affordable, available sensors being added to products after they’ve been manufactured? If it is, well I believe 2018 will change that perception as IoT takes a decisive step forward in its evolution. If we think of IoT as a product’s nervous system, 2018 will see it grow from picking up signals at the periphery to being the brain of the product, constantly sending, receiving, growing and gathering information, from the centre of the product throughout its lifetime, in the process enabling new services and revenue streams.
Manufacturing is one of the markets most heavily impacted by IoT today. According to Global Market Insights, IoT in the manufacturing market was valued at over US$20 billion in 2016 and will grow at more than 20 per cent estimated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2017 to 2024.
Current IoT investments that are unique to the manufacturing environment are taking place in three major initiatives:

  1. Smart manufacturing to increase production output, product quality or operations, and workforce safety as well as lower resource consumption.
  2. Connected products to impact product performance, including collecting detailed information on products in the field, remote diagnostics and remote maintenance.
  3. Connected supply chains to increase visibility and coordination in the supply chain, tracking assets or inventory for more efficient execution.

We will see IoT being included as a part of the design process in all three of these initiatives. Manufacturers are realising that by engineering IoT technology into products and equipment already in the design process, you will be able to monitor not only the equipment’s performance to predict when it needs repair, but also how and when it is being used – which provides game-changing competitive advantages.
By the end of 2018, more than 50 per cent of manufacturers will be building IoT technology into their products from day one – already thinking forward in the design phase and asking themselves what services and revenue this product can generate throughout its lifetime.
In fact, where will our revenue be coming from in the next five years? It’s a good question and it leads us to my next key prediction…

  1. Servitisation speeds ahead: by 2020 most manufacturers will earn over half of their revenue from services

With the manufacturing industry becoming more and more commoditised, the need to differentiate yourself is key to survival and profitability. We now see that a large number of manufacturers are shifting to a more service-centric business model – the buzz word is ‘servitisation’.
Servitisation is a way for a manufacturer to add capabilities to enhance their overall package in addition to the product itself. One famous example is Apple, which did this a few years ago when it had gained the majority of market share with the iPod and introduced iTunes to increase loyalty, differentiate itself and generate more revenue. You may think that it will never apply to your business, but companies are now reaping the benefits of servitisation across many different sub-segments. For example, Philips provides Schiphol airport outside Amsterdam with ‘lighting as a service’, which means that Schiphol pays for the light it uses, while Philips remains the owner of all fixtures and installations. Philips and its partner Cofely will be jointly responsible for the performance and durability of the system, and ultimately its re-use and recycling at end of life. This has resulted in a 50 per cent reduction in electricity consumption without having to buy a lamp.
I see this development among IFS’s customers as well. For global furniture manufacturer Nowy Styl Group, servitisation has been crucial to its growth. In 2007, it announced, “for us, chairs are not enough”, starting a transformation from pure manufacturer to world-class office interior consulting company. Another example is a customer that manufactures cleaning products and started to offer delivery and service dosing systems. The company understood that choosing the right cleaning products was just part of its customers’ main objective, i.e. keeping its premises hygienic. Applying the products in the most effective way, choosing the right accessories, establishing the right routines – all these were crucial to keeping premises clean too.
Both of these customers realised that with technology accelerating as fast as it is, no matter how beautifully designed a chair is or how effective a cleaning product may be, today’s luxury products turn into tomorrow’s commodities faster than ever, pulling prices down with them. With servitisation, manufacturers escape the corrosion of commodification. Expert services built on years of experience provide a kind of value customers will always pay for, regardless of technology trends.
According to the IFS Digital Change Survey, conducted by the research and publishing company Raconteur, 68 per cent of manufacturing companies claim that servitisation is either ‘well-established and is already paying dividends’ or ‘in progress and is receiving appropriate executive attention and support’.
However, almost one in three manufacturing companies are still to derive value from servitisation. These are missing out on revenue streams and new ways to develop their offerings. To be successful in their response to customer needs and increasing demands, manufacturers must look to new business models to compress time to market, taking an idea through from design to a saleable item as quickly as possible.
New technology like IoT adds an additional layer to servitisation. With sensors detecting when your product or equipment needs service, this data can trigger an automated service action that will realise significant benefits to make your service organisation more effective. This type of automated predictive maintenance will become more and more common as it is a natural next step after implementing IoT to optimise service efforts.

  1. By 2019, the hype around 3D printing will be over and real benefits blooming

My third prediction is that 3D printing, just like IoT, will enter a new, more mature phase. No matter how big the ‘wow’ factor is when we first see it, apart from a smaller-scale manufacturing production like hearing aids and jewellery, 3D printing has so far failed to live up to its full potential. All this could change in 2018.

“Economy of scale… will be an important catalyst for the success of the 3D printing technology.”

We are seeing a couple of developments that point in that direction. The first one is the improved scalability of 3D printers. A new generation of 3D printing companies is moving into areas traditionally dominated by injection-moulding manufacturers, with newer, faster, better connected automated systems that reduce some of the time-consuming pre- and post-processing that has been such an obstacle to wide-scale uptake. One company, Stratasys, for example, has collaborated on a new printer, the Demonstrator, that combines three printers into a stack system – each printer able to communicate to its neighbours in real time. The new printer is highly scalable, meaning it can significantly increase production capacity, printing from 1,500–2,000 components a day. This means that you can achieve an economy of scale to bring costs down, which will be an important catalyst for the success of the 3D printing technology.
The aviation industry is pioneering 3D printing technology today, and the manufacturing industry can learn from that. One successful example is the new GE Turboprop ATP Engine, which was 35 per cent 3D printed, taking it down from 855 components to 12 and contributing toward the engine being lighter, more compact and delivering a 15 per cent lower fuel burn and 10 per cent higher cruise power compared with competitors’ products.
The expanded capacity and reduction in pre- and post-processing that new, highly innovative mid-size 3D printing companies are bringing to the field mean that, in 2018, I think we will see manufacturing companies joining in with aviation and defence, and flying high too with new 3D printing capabilities.
Antony Bourne is the global industry director of industrial and high-tech manufacturing for enterprise software company IFS. For more information visit

Robotics to be biggest supply chain disruptor

Robotics will cause the most disruption in the supply chain in the next five years, according to a study carried out by the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville’s Global Supply Chain Institute, as first reported by Modern Materials Handling.
The study looked at the anticipated impact of five technologies on the supply chain on the next five years: 3D printing, driverless vehicles, drones, robotics and wearable technology, assessing the current and potential use of these technologies as well as the benefits and barriers to using them.
“Robotics have been around for more than 50 years, but they have become dramatically more dynamic in the last five,” said Paul Dittmann, Executive Director of the Global Supply Chain Institute and the paper’s author. “They are no longer stationary, blind, expensive and unintelligent but can work alongside people and learn as jobs change.”
3D printing was deemed to be the least viable technology in the short term, though the study acknowledged that it has the potential to eliminate the supply chain completely if costs can be reduced and usable materials expanded.
“We are at a turning point in the industry where disruptive innovation is required to meet the exponentially growing customer expectations,” said Danny Halim, Vice President – Distribution and 3PL Strategies at JDA Software, one of the sponsors of the white paper.

Why supply chains will be reshaped by 2025

Emerging advancements in technology such as autonomous trucks, 3D printing and warehouse automation will foster changes in how shippers, retailers and manufacturers configure their supply chains and distribution strategies, spurring a need for different formats and locations for industrial real estate, according to a new report from CBRE Group.
Taken together, these advancements will encourage industrial users to modernise their networks to adapt to the fast-evolving market rather than requiring them to add more or fewer warehouses and distribution centres. Each of these technology categories are on track to reach widespread use by 2025.
“Autonomous vehicles, 3D printing and warehouse automation stand to reshape supply chains on an unprecedented scale, but real estate won’t be innovated out of that equation,” said David Egan, CBRE’s Head of Industrial & Logistics Research in the Americas. “While use of autonomous vehicles in shipping likely will allow for a greater emphasis on a few massive distribution centers in far-flung, less expensive locations, 3D printing meanwhile will result in many users needing more industrial space closer to customers to facilitate on-demand, custom manufacturing.”
The CBRE report includes in-depth examinations of each of the three areas of technological advancement and their likely impact on the industrial and logistics markets.

  • Autonomous trucking: Labor represents roughly 75 percent of the cost of shipping a full truckload across the US, and drivers are limited to 70 hours of driving a week, equating to 3,000 miles. The advent of autonomous vehicles will allow cargo to travel greater distances in less time, saving costs. This, in turn, will allow some users to operate more extensively from large distribution centres in outlying locations, where land is less expensive.
  • 3D Printing: The ability to manufacture certain items on-demand will spur a horizontal shift in the supply chain. Whereas this advancement may lessen the need for centralised distribution space in some cases, it also increases the requirement for bulk, raw materials to be stored at printing sites close to the consumer in last-mile distribution facilities.
  • Automation in industrial facilities: A greater use of robots and other automated technology stands to reduce labor costs and increase efficiency. However, it also will stoke demand for modernized industrial buildings equipped to accommodate the design requirements and IT infrastructure of automation.

3D printed ABS/carbon fibre car made in two days

US company Local Motors expects its 3D printed car, unveiled last month, to soon receive approval to drive on roads.

The ABC reports that the vehicle weighs roughly 1,000 kilograms and is made of only
49 parts (or 64, depending on the report). This compares to a regular car’s
approximately 5,000.

body of the car was printed over two days and then driven at last month’s International Manufacturing Technology Show at Chicago. It is printed out of
ABS plastic reinforced with carbon fibre.

Motors’ Engineer James Earl said the time from design to building was only four
months, and that the limited number of parts had another advantage.

“The thing
that this lends most to is customisation-ality, so you can get a car that
really suits your needs with very little monetary input from the design side,”
he told the ABC of the car, which Local Motors hopes to sell for $US 20,000.

The machine used
to print the car – the Big Area
Additive Manufacturing Machine (BAAM)
– made by
Cincinnati Inc. in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is reportedly
able to lay down 40 pounds of plastic per hour.

The car created
at IMTS was named the Strati (Italian for “layers”) and recently won the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award for 2014.

Image: Local Motors

3D printing could offer “incredible” savings in transport costs

3D printing has the potential to radically change businesses, starting with a big disruption to supply chains.

“Though direct printing in homes is an extreme example that may not manifest itself any time soon, there’s nothing to stop the same concept from eliminating the supply chain between businesses and manufacturers,” suggests a contributor to Forbes magazine.

Citing a report last year titled The Implications of 3D Printing for the Global Logistics Industry, the article claimed there could be massive reductions in shipping cargo volumes from “near-sourcing” to be expected, with “incredible” savings in transport costs.

Forbes also offered that there would be benefits from decreased lead times, less effort and time spent in development and re-tooling, and increased eased in customising products for the customer.

To read the entire article, click here.

For an explanation on how product development can be shaken up by 3D printing, watch this Stratasys webinar, currently available through Manufacturers' Monthly

Image: Wikipedia

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