The AMRC Additive Manufacturing (AM) Forum brought together industry partners to discuss the current challenges manufacturers face when introducing AM technologies into their businesses and how to design with additive manufacturing in order to maximise the commercial value.
At the Forum, PES Engineering Director, Dan Fleetcroft, encouraged businesses to look carefully at the technology to identify what value can be added to their products and processes by utilising design for additive manufacture as a potential solution from the outset of a project.
PES works across a number of high-value manufacturing sectors, offering design, engineering and data capture services. One of their specialisms is using additive manufacturing (AM) to improve product performance, reduce time to market and minimise development costs for clients.
He said: “There are many benefits to utilising AM technologies, for instance we use AM to produce prototypes or limited runs of components. This approach helps to reduce the associated risks of product evaluation and testing as there is no requirement to invest in expensive tooling which may have to be modified or remanufactured.
“It allows us to check the geometry of a product before committing to the tooling necessary for volume production and manufacturing.”
PES manufacture AM parts directly from CAD and scan data, which means as well as new designs for prototypes or functional components, AM is well suited to the reverse engineering of legacy parts. Fleetcroft encouraged manufacturers to take advantage of opportunities in new sectors:
“There are the many opportunities to introduce the use of AM, but the lack of knowledge about AM in the manufacturing industry means people are unaware that AM parts are already being used in sectors such as aerospace.”
He said new areas to consider include elite sports, as the high level of customisation and small batch production required can be delivered through high performance bespoke AM parts, at costs not achievable through more traditional subtractive techniques or moulding.
Fleetcroft added: “Design for additive manufacture allows you to create components that are impossible or impractical to produce by conventional manufacturing methods. Developing knowledge and understanding of the increasing range of AM processes will get you ahead of the market.”
Originally published in the AMRC Journal.