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Additive Manufacturing

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Additive manufacturing consists in creating an object by adding the material layer by layer. Unlike with most conventional manufacturing techniques, additive manufacturing creates objects by adding material, rather than removing material. Using a computer aided design software " CAD " or a computer -aided manufacturing software " Computer-Aided Manufacturing, CAM " the design is made the object to be manufactured.

Practical applications of additive manufacturing

The variety of application sectors of additive manufacturing is very wide. Among them are sectors such as: aerospace, as a way of manufacturing precise and resistant parts with complex geometries is sought; the automaker, as in the case of Formula 1, in which it needs to create objects of high mechanical resistance and low weight, with aerodynamic requirements; the health one, in which you need to create objects that fit the body " for example, 3D splints "; the industrial one, in which companies use it to have absolute freedom to design and redesign any form quickly regardless of its complexity; among others.

Many companies that work with additive manufacturing need a satellite manufacturing system that integrates with ERP software. For example, a steel company can create steel parts with additive manufacturing. With a manufacturing module, it would take control of parameterization of the tests, recording the proportion of iron and carbon of the composition of a piece, the weight, the thickness, the density, etc. Thanks to the redesign facilities offered by additive manufacturing, this technique allows companies to save time and cost.

Different additive manufacturing techniques

The manufacturing module can also parameterize the different additive manufacturing techniques used to check which one is best for producing each type of product.

Additive manufacturing can be carried out with the following techniques:

3d print

It's responsible for the manufacture of objects by deposition of a material using a printhead, nozzle or other printer technology. It's carried out by depositing drops of a plastic or wax material on a base and solidifies with ultraviolet " UV " light or by molten filament.

Extrusion of the material

It consists of extracting the polymers in the form of a coil through the heated nozzle that's in a mobile arm. The bed where the object is to be created moves vertically while the nozzle does so horizontally, allowing molten material to build the object layer by layer. The correct adhesion of the layers is produced by precise control of the temperature or the use of chemical bonding agents " industrial glue ". It differs from the other techniques in that the material is added with the nozzle at a constant pressure and flow. This pressure and speed must be stable to ensure an accurate result.

Directed Energy Deposition

It resembles the extrusion of the material, but is used for a wider variety of materials, including polymers, ceramics and metals. However, the most commonly used variety is with metals that are in the form of dust or wire.

A DED machine can be an electron beam gun, a laser consisting of a four or five axis arm to melt the raw material or wire or filament dust. These machines deposit the melted material on a specific surface, where it solidifies. With this technique, the nozzle can move in multiple directions, not as the extrusion of the material.

Jetting material " Polyjet "

It's carried out with a printhead that moves back and forth. It's the same as the head on a 2D inkjet printer. However, the jetting material normally travels on the "x", "y" and "z" axes to create 3D objects. The layers harden on cooling or cure with ultraviolet light.

As the material must be deposited in drops, the number of available materials with which this technique can be used is limited. Polymers and waxes are suitable and commonly used materials, due to their viscous nature and the ability to form drops.

Binder Jetting

It's done similar to the jetting material. The main difference is that the print head moves horizontally on the "x" and "y" axes of the machine and deposits alternative layers of powder material and a liquid binder. After each layer, the construction platform of the printed object is lowered.

However, in binder jetting not all materials are the most suitable for structural parts and, despite relatively rapid printing, an additional subsequent process can mean a significant increase in time. As in the other powder-based methodologies, the object being printed is self-sufficient within the container where it's located and is removed from the unbound powder once completed.

Leaf lamination

This technique has two different methods. One of them is the manufacture of Laminated Object Manufacturing " LOM ". This method alternates layers of paper and adhesive, and is used to create objects for visual or aesthetic models and isn't suitable for construction of structural objects.

The other method is called Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing " UAM ". The UAM uses thin metal sheets joined by ultrasonic welding. This method is carried out with low energy and at a relatively low temperature since the metal doesn't melt. The UAM allows you to create internal geometries and performs with various metals, such as titanium, stainless steel and aluminum. Often, it requires additional CNC " Computer Numerical Control " machining and removal of unbound metal during the welding process.

VAT Polymerization

Photopolymerization or, as is best known, VAT photopolymerization by its Anglo-Saxon name. With this technique the object is created in a tub of a liquid resin photopolymer. Since the process uses liquid to form objects, there is no structural support of the material during the construction phase. Light curing cures or hardens each layer of microfine resin using ultraviolet " UV " light directed by motorized mirrors, creating the object from below.

Powder Bed Fusion

Fusion powder or Powder B Fusion " PBF " has different methods. The first is called Selective Laser Sintering " SLS " or selective sintering by laser, which prints the object layer by layer from plastic fused powders. This process doesn't need a binder since it sticks thanks to the temperature generated by the laser. The Direct Metal Laser Sintering " DMLS " method, or direct sintering with metal lasers, is the same as the SLS, but its difference is that the material with which it builds is metal and not plastic.

The selective sintering heat or Selective Heat Sintering " SHS " uses a thermal print head for thermoplastic powder sinter. When using a thermal print head and not a laser, the objects to be created may be smaller.

The last method pertaining to the fusion of dust is the fusion of electron beam or Electron Beam Melting " EBM ". In it, the metal powder or filament melts completely with a concentrated beam of electrons. Production in a vacuum chamber ensures that oxidation doesn't compromise highly reactive materials such as titanium. Vacuum production is also required so that electrons don't collide with gas molecules.


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