While much potential exists for additive manufacturing technology, there are barriers to success and greater adoption. Deeper knowledge and understanding of the various additive manufacturing processes is needed to make the best decisions and to answer the key questions: “Can I print it?” and “Should I print it?”. Using additive manufacturing technology and maximizing its advantages – or Design for Additive Manufacturing (DFAM) are two different things. How do we make better decisions in 3D technologies?
SME has created a new initiative: the Independent Technical Evaluation of Additive Manufacturing (ITEAM). The purpose of ITEAM is to advance additive manufacturing by providing a trusted information platform as a resource for manufacturers using this technology. ITEAM is a consortium, as shown in Figure 1, a user-driven group including manufacturing companies, additive manufacturing equipment and material producers, industry organizations, academic institutions, service bureaus, CAD, CAE, and other software solutions providers.
ITEAM will bring together these groups as an additive manufacturing ecosystem to facilitate the advancement and adoption of additive manufacturing in all types of products.
There are two main impediments to the adoption of any new technology. The first is the advancement of the technology itself to become better, faster, and cheaper. The second impediment is the technical information users need to make informed, reliable decisions that answers the “Can I make it?” and “Should I make it?” questions. Additive manufacturing equipment producers are diligently addressing the first issue, with new machines and materials being introduced on a continuous basis.
ITEAM was formed to address the second issue, trusted additive manufacturing information, so that potential users can make the right decision at the right point in time as to technology feasibility (“Can I make it”) and economic feasibility (“Should I make it”). This is captured in the SAM-CT model, as shown in Figure 2.
SAM is the acronym for Size, Accuracy, and Material, while CT is the acronym for Cost and Throughput. SAM is the technical evaluation of the “Can I make it”, where the proposed part to be made is evaluated against specific additive manufacturing machine/material offerings. CT is the economic evaluation of “Should I make it”, where the cost and time of making the proposed part is evaluated against the cost and time of the current production method.
The ITEAM platform that will enable these evaluations is called RAMP – RAPID Additive Manufacturing Platform. The architecture of this platform is shown in Figure 3. The ITEAM platform is being developed at the Florida Institute of Technology, in consultation with leading automotive and aerospace companies. The core of the ITEAM platform is the additive manufacturing machine/material repository database.
In its initial release, this repository will contain extensive specifications on the major additive manufacturing machines that are commercially available. Additive manufacturing users will be able to make inquiries of this repository on a wide range of SAM-CT characteristics.
As shown in the Figure 3, the repository database will also be able to feed data to ‘apps’ on the top level that can be developed by various parties including third-party developers, academic institutions, and additive manufacturing machine producers themselves. The manufacturing community will be encouraged to develop their own applications. These applications will be vetted in order to maintain the integrity of a trusted third-party platform.
Additional features to be added include additive manufacturing knowledge and resources, videos, webinars and tutorials, and a curated community forum for sharing information about machines and materials capabilities and performance. SME is working together with America Makes to incorporate the latest material and research on additive manufacturing.
The ITEAM additive manufacturing repository and inquiry website will be introduced at RAPID + TCT, April 23-26, 2018 in Ft. Worth, TX. ITEAM will have a series of meetings with users and equipment providers to solicit feedback on development priorities for the platform. SME’s initiative continues its role as bringing the manufacturing community together and leading the adoption and advancement of additive manufacturing.
For more information, please visit sme.org/ITEAM.
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Dr. Michael Grieves is the Executive Director of the Center of Advanced Manufacturing and Innovative Design at Florida Institute of Technology.