• Additive Manufacturing Blog, January 2021

    Unlocking Higher Performance 3D Printing Applications

This episode of Additive Snack is one of the most popular topics in the additive manufacturing (AM) universe right now. A hot topic issue; design innovation in the manufacturing industry has enabled additive manufacturing to re-write product design rules. Brad Rothenberg, CEO of nTopology, joins us this week to talk about how changing your perceptions of product design can help to Improve product performance, Reduce cost per part and  Increase sustainability and product longevity.

Fabian Alefeld
Additive Minds Consulting Manager
EOS of North America Inc.

So why can’t we just take the old models for our parts and start producing them using AM?

Product design has traditionally utilized one of three systems. However, these legacy design techniques have been severely restricted by chokepoints and limitations of materials. Whether through casting, forging, or other methods: designers have had to work on how the materials will connect and perform. Additive manufacturing has revolutionized the production industry, but incorporating this innovative technology into your current practices isn’t a guaranteed recipe for success.

When companies leap into additive manufacturing, they often fall into the pitfall of thinking that the designs they’ve used historically will translate directly to the new process. The reality is that traditional modeling won’t always translate directly to 3D printing. Taking a traditionally cast or forged part and turning it into an additive manufactured part can require a far more complex design.

Should I just stick with traditional methods, then?

One of the most exciting things about additive manufacturing is its scope and flexibility. With the right product design in place, you will find the process is not only more efficient but potentially more effective for your product. Without the physical limitations of construction, weight, and materials that previously restricted creativity, additive manufacturing can remove a lot of the barriers and time constraints, opening your engineers to a more creative and productive environment.

With more businesses turning to remixing old designs with new 3D printing methods, here are Brad’s tips on what NOT to do when incorporating additive manufacturing into your business model.

  1. Unlearn everything you think you know about product design. Whereas previous designs used geometry to solve the choke points of materials used, now materials are designed around the need of the part.

  2. Don’t be restricted by legacy methods of production. Look at what parts you’re working with and think about which of them can benefit from being combined into one component.

  3. Don’t forget to test! If you’re not sure, try and engage with system application engineers and take learnings away with you. 

Will I need to start everything from scratch?

Not at all! While considering re-designing may sound daunting, it can offer engineers a chance to address those hangups and choke points that have limited production in the past. Combining parts, reducing weight, or using new, more sustainable materials: reviewing old designs and reinventing them for additive manufacturing can help give your product the edge over your competitors.

In summary…

  • Additive manufacturing can help overcome the pain points that limit traditional methods of product manufacturing.
  • Incorporating additive manufacturing into your business model can eliminate the grunt work of traditional project research and free up engineers for more creative and innovative possibilities.
  • Updating and reviewing previous designs will ensure success when making the switch to additive manufacturing.

Curious? Make sure to tune in to Additive Snack to get the latest insights and advice directly from the additive manufacturing industry.

Do not hesitate to reach out to me personally,  I’d be happy to assist with any questions you might have.

Fabian Alefeld
Additive Minds Consulting Manager
EOS of North America Inc.