Should You 3D Print That Part? SME Launches ITEAM at RAPID to Answer That Question

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It’s an age old question. Should I use additive manufacturing or another process to create my product? Or as SME puts it…To 3D print or not to 3D print? At RAPID + TCT last week, SME announced that they have partnered with GM and Dr. Michael Grieves of the Florida Institute of Technology to create ITEAM, the Independent Technical Evaluation of Additive Manufacturing Consortium, to address that question. ITEAM was formed to develop a web-based evaluation system to aid manufacturers in making better decisions in additive manufacturing. The chief things that ITEAM is concerned with are the following: Is this something I can 3D print? Does it make sense to 3D print it? What’s the best machine, material and process to 3D print this particular part?

ITEAM is creating a virtual repository of additive manufacturing machines and materials, as well as tools to evaluate additive manufactured parts. The consortium is creating a methodology called SAM-CT (size, accuracy and materials + economic evaluation of cost and throughput). It addresses if something can and should be produced by additive manufacturing — or if better methods exist based on cost and throughput.

“One of the keys to determining whether 3D printing is a game changer will be the ability to totally redesign a part, or merge an assembly of parts and make the additive part a reality in production,” says Susan Smyth, PhD, FSME, GM chief scientist for manufacturing and 2017 SME Board of Directors secretary. “The challenge from the automotive community is the need for hardware, material innovation and availability of design tools to reinvent parts and morph assemblies for applications above and beyond prototype.”

ITEAM will also be a center and clearinghouse for design for additive manufacturing (AM) research, methodology, qualification and advancements, and will feature a virtual, open platform and evaluation tools to enable users to determine their parts’ suitability for 3D printing against the available machines and materials. This open platform will encourage the AM community to create specialized AM apps and share AM experiences and feedback.

Dr. Michael Grieves discuss ITEAM during the Brilliant Factory keynote at RAPID.

“We regularly hear from our additive manufacturing user community on how emerging 3D technologies are allowing them to increase speed to market, produce stronger and lighter parts, improve efficiency, reduce waste, eliminate costly tooling and create products and geometries that couldn’t be created before,” says Debbie Holton, vice president of Events and Industry Strategy at SME.

Dr. Grieves is a world-renowned expert on Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and virtual-to-physical product engineering and manufacturing. He created the Digital Twin concept, which marries a physical object with its exact digital representation. Sensors on the physical part send data to the digital model which is updated in near real-time. It is meant to be an up-to-date and accurate copy of the physical object’s properties and states, including shape, position, gesture, status and motion, and is a tool that could help inform some of the decisions behind what materials and processes should be used to create new parts.

“The information about additive machines and material capabilities that users need to make quality decisions is fragmented and expensive,” says Dr. Grieves, who is also the executive director of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovative Design at the Florida Institute of Technology. “This new future requires accurate, reliable and current information so users can make the best technical and economic decisions as to additive equipment and materials. SME is stepping up to the challenge of providing this capability with ITEAM.”

If you’d like to help ITEAM with its mission, you can join it as a foundational member and get first look and access to BETA versions of the SAM-CT system, access to industry leaders and experts developing the ITEAM system, and the ability to influence development through input and iterative design.

Below is a video about ITEAM:

[ Source: SME/Images: SME, Michael A. Parker]

 

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