AMS Spring 2023

On-Demand Manufacturing Platform Fictiv Launches 3D Visualization Tool for Injection Molding

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As the Biden administration’s recently released National Strategy for Advanced Manufacturing signals, the scale-up of 3D printing will be critical not just for the sector itself, but for the entire range of technologies comprising the future of industrialization. Especially in the early phases of that scale-up, the ability to combine 3D printing applications with other techniques will be just as significant as its standalone capabilities, in determining the technology’s success.

As such, online production platforms should play a key role in accelerating the mainstream embrace of 3D printing, since they’ve already long been at the task of digitally navigating between all of advanced manufacturing’s various neighborhoods. Today, for instance, the San Francisco-based, on-demand manufacturing firm, Fictiv, announced that the company has added 3D visualization technology to its injection molding design for manufacturability (DFM) system.

Injection molding involves feeding heated materials — most often, polymers — into the cavity of a preset mold, after which the material cools, taking the shape of its particular vessel. There are multiple overlaps between injection molding and additive manufacturing (AM), and above all, the potential to print the designs used for injection molding could be a relative fast-track towards ultimately deploying AM in mass production. Clearly, then, Fictiv’s facilitating the use of 3D visualization for the design of injection molds is a concept that holds significant potential for the crossover of AM and injection molding.

In a press release announcing the 3D enhancement of its DFM system for injection molding, Fictiv’s chief product officer, Chris Lippi, explained, “Our goal at Fictiv is to simplify sourcing for complex injection molding tools and parts our customers need by enabling them to order quickly and easily, with minimal redesign and risk, and with expert guidance every step of the way.” Dilan Silva, a mechanical engineer at Thermo Fisher Scientific — a Fictiv customer — added, “Fictiv is consistently evolving their manufacturing technologies while driving down costs and improving operational efficiency.”

As is the case generally concerning the advantages yielded by the latest advances in 3D design software, product engineers are likely to be the greatest immediate beneficiaries of Fictiv’s upgrade. First off, this should speed up processes like comparing the pros and cons of two slightly different iterations, or responding to feedback from customers with viable design tweaks. Additionally, more seamless integration between interrelated technologies simply equates to more creative freedom from the outset of any manufacturing project.

In that sense, the most exciting aspect of the AM sector’s accelerating software evolution is the potential for breakthroughs that aren’t even being considered yet. All predictions aside, no one will know what the true practical significance of AM is until a widespread embrace of advanced manufacturing technologies becomes a reality. The only certainty is that a year from now, the AM sector will look far different than it does at present.

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