Additive Manufacturing Strategies (AMS) is nearly upon us and I have the opportunity to moderate a panel on the Future of DED and WAAM. At the beginning of every year, we all look forward to the future and what it will hold for our industry. It is difficult to predict the future and define it with precision. As I prepare for the panel, my thoughts swirl around many topics ranging from qualification, all the way back to awareness of AM. Sometimes our AM industry faces too little or too much definition. Case in point is DED, which takes many forms relating to what type of energy is used and how material is applied. Now, add the hybrid methods and the matrix grows quite quickly, which strongly informs how an engineer is thinking about designing for manufacturing.
To define the future must first start with solid definitions of the present. A definition, almost by definition, is meant to drive clarity, precision, sharpness and/or focus. Examining designing for AM; it is ultimately a tiny subset of designing for manufacturing. A survey done by The Barnes Global Advisors (TBGA) found that about a third of the industry defines DfAM the same way. Most do not include the non-3d printing processes – or that more than 50% of the cost is in PBF. At TBGA we define design for AM holistically and go further to break it into MfAM and DfAM; where MfAM, Modify for AM, more closely resembles traditional design for manufacturing. DfAM, in our context, is more about the design opportunity based on the AM process.
DfAM is heavily related to the types of AM processes, as how one applies DfAM to PBF is going to be different than DED. Let’s then define what makes an AM process. Back in the TBGA labs, we experimented and found that people are clever and keep inventing things, but often they are combinations or they build off a previous thought to make it more productive, reduce cost or add functionality. In this manner, we felt we needed a rubric to ‘future proof’ and relate to our training audience on what defines an AM process – or rather what is relevant about a process. We came to the TBGA Simplified View of AM which only requires you to identify 3 things to define a process:
- How do you form the layer?
- How is energy applied?
- How is the material applied?
Just as we expect people to keep being clever and continue to define new processes, we expect the TBGA Simplified View of AM will help potential users understand where it fits in the application or utilization and really, when AM can be used to solve a problem. We also know that designing for AM, whether it includes MfAM and/or DfAM, is heavily influenced by the AM process and the subsequent downstream processes; designing for AM is ultimately influenced by the process.
At the upcoming AMS panel, we will have an opportunity to examine different DED processes that encompass different energy sources and different material inputs. We’ll get to hear from Melanie Lang of FormAlloy, Filomena Martina from WAAM3D and David Ramahi of Optomec. Perhaps with the Simplified View approach, we can quickly assess the DfAM implications and get on with the future, as defined by the present day?
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