European digital innovation and entrepreneurial education organization EIT Digital is a Knowledge and Innovation Community of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology focused on integrating business, education, and research by bringing together developers, entrepreneurs, students, researchers, and engineers through its pan-European network of Co-Location Centres. The company mobilizes this ecosystem of universities, startups, SMEs, research institutes, and corporations in order to grow entrepreneurial talent for an improved quality of life and economy in Europe. Additionally, EIT Digital also invests in carefully chosen, strategic areas to increase the market uptake of research-based digital technologies that focus on societal challenges in Europe, such as digital cities, infrastructure, and industry.
The latest project it’s supporting, as part of its OEDIPUS High Impact Initiative, is “Automation Support for Additive Manufacturing.” As we’ve seen on numerous occasions, manufacturers could save a lot of time and money if they employed the use of 3D printing to fabricate industrial end-use components. But for a variety of reasons, the technology is not always that easy for some companies to adopt. One of these reasons is that not all designers and engineers are yet familiar with 3D printing and all of its various uses, all of which require a myriad of different materials, machines, and processes to make parts and components.
The new automation and AM project that EIT Digital is supporting wants to change things up in terms of 3D printing adoption, so that businesses are more quickly and easily able to switch from traditional forms of manufacturing to additive ones. The organization’s partners in this new venture are Aalto University in Finland, DeskArtes, and Siemens.
“At Aalto University we created a database with up-to-date relevant data for 3D printing of end-use components,” Niklas Kretzschmar, Aalto’s activity leader, said. “The database contains comprehensive data including machines, materials, mechanical properties and accuracy levels required to print a certain component; also listing post processing steps and other factors. Consequently, this information and their theoretical connections were forwarded to Siemens to create knowledge graphs, linking this data logically with each other.”
These knowledge graphs have resulted in what EIT Digital refers to as an “ontology of additive manufacturing.” The usable solution, which is in the form of a software add-on, is pretty easy to use – just upload a CAD file, with any additional information, of a component to automatically receive any 3D printing alternatives; you can also specify the material, size, and surface characteristics of the part if you don’t have a CAD file handy.
“For instance, you want to investigate in printing a complex industrial component out of a specific metal alloy and the system would tell you which metal additive manufacturing process, machine and material type could ideally be used to address user’s demands,” Kretzschmar explained. “In this context, the system additionally provides feedback on certain mandatory post processing steps as well as optional measures that could be beneficial for you.”
Previously, users needed to conduct a lot of manual, in-depth research to access all the relevant data and get these kinds of results. Because the process was difficult and people wouldn’t know what parameters, materials, etc. to choose for their prints, they would often end up with parts and components that were less than good. But this new solution automates most of the process, which means those who aren’t 3D printing experts will likely make less mistakes and end up with better prints.
The plugin will be integrated by DeskArtes as an extension of its 3D data data expert software, and then commercialized. The new system is currently in a pilot test phase with three trial customers, and is expected to hit the market by the end of 2019. EIT Digital expects that the system will be mainly sold to manufacturing, service, and system development companies.
What do you think? Discuss this story and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.[Images: EIT Digital]
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