German media: 3D printing applications continue to expand
The German “Süddeutsche Zeitung” website published an article entitled “Unique Laminating Work” on February 28. The author is Helmut Martin-Jung. The article stated that although everything can not be made by 3D Printing, The field of application of this technology is constantly expanding. The full text is excerpted as follows: the hype craze has faded. Now, 3D Printing technology can print a variety of colors and different materials such as plastic, metal and even sand. This technology is gradually occupying the production field. There was a time when this didn’t seem to be the case, because 3D printing has gone through a typical hype phase. After the pioneers such as Munich’s Hans Langer and Belgian Fried Van Klein laid the foundation, optimists are already talking about the fact that 3D printing will soon replace traditional production methods and even make use of different materials. Into an entire device, such as a smart phone. These wildly exaggerated expectations have not been realized, and 3D printing technology has subsequently withdrawn from public view. But after moving away from the spotlight, this technology is constantly evolving and improving. The main reason is that users increasingly rely on it. Andreas Langfeld, European director of the American printing equipment manufacturer Stratassis, said: “Customers are more creative than us. 3D printing will never replace all traditional production methods.” This technology has gained a foothold in more and more industries. For example, currently about 1,000 parts of an Airbus A350 aircraft are made by 3D printing. The automotive industry has also realized the value of using 3D printing to replace traditional production. Christian Kleinen of Brose, a German auto parts supplier, said: “If you want to produce 5,000 to 10,000 parts per year, the results of using these processes are very good.” The new technology processes and the production methods we are familiar with. , Such as casting, injection molding, drilling or milling is completely different, which is a blessing and a curse for it. 3D printing is also called additive manufacturing, and this description may be more intuitive. Materials—usually powders or threads of plastic or metal—are layered on top of each other.
3D printing has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of this technology is that there are almost no shape restrictions. This means that you can learn from the structure of nature to make parts, such as bird bones. They are hollow, so they are very light, but because of the complex support inside, they are very strong. This cannot be made by traditional methods. But the disadvantage of 3D printing technology is that it takes a relatively long time to make a part. In addition, 3D printing materials are still much more expensive than traditional mass production materials. However, relying on 3D printing technology is often beneficial. On the one hand, some industries only need small-volume, but high-demand products, such as the space exploration technology company in the United States. For the company, the combination of high strength and low weight and innovative design are particularly important. But there are also many common application areas, such as spare parts management. Brose’s Kleline said that in order to be able to provide spare parts, manufacturers must produce and store spare parts, or keep molds, which also means maintenance and therefore costs. If you use 3D printing, you only need a little computer storage space to store the print data. And because only small batches are required, the production and delivery of parts will be fast. The print quality determines that the hundreds of Euro printers bought in supermarkets cannot be compared with industrial printing equipment. These devices usually cost hundreds of thousands of euros. In the production workshop, the parts are manufactured layer by layer, where the same temperature must be maintained because this has an impact on the performance of the material. Of course, there are differences in the requirements for different products. The parts installed in the invisible part of the car do not need to be beautiful in appearance. Klein said: “What comes out of the printer only needs to meet the standards.”
It can only play a supplementary role.Stefan Holland, head of Europe, Middle East and Africa of Formlibs, USA, is very happy to have customers like Brose. He said: “We have learned a lot.” Brose has also been adding new experiences, many of which are simply invisible to customers because it has improved the processes in its own factories. For example, Brose produced the robotic arm on the screwing table through 3D printing. The new robotic arm weighs only 8 kilograms instead of the original 12 kilograms-which effectively reduces the burden on the workers. On other machines, plastic brackets have replaced metal brackets, so smaller motors can now be used. Despite being amazed by the 3D technology, Clarion, like many other users, does not believe that everything can be made by 3D printing in the end. He said: “This technology will still play a complementary role.” But with the further development of the technology, its application areas are also expanding. The current epidemic highlights another important point: the use of 3D printing to produce missing parts can avoid the problem of short-term failure to deliver goods. A hospital in Paris has even set up its own small 3D printing workshop to manufacture its own medical equipment when necessary.
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