3D printing technology

3D printing technology will transform your business

Jolanda Heunen - 25 June 2015

3D scanning, 3D printing and additive manufacturing are terms that you will hear more and more in the future. Yes: also in the world of stainless steel.

About the author

Ms Jolanda Heunen
Jolanda Heunen is Editor Print & Online for Managing Aging Plants and 3D fab+print. She is also Conference Coordinator for the Managing Aging Plants (MAP) Europe Conference.
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The 3D printing technology involves manufacturing processes that are evolving extremely quickly and Stainless Steel World is of course very eager to learn more about the soaring potential of 3D printing technology. Editor David Sear already travelled to Berlin in March of this year to visit the Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo and learn all about the emerging technology behind additive manufacturing. He set out to discover if it is possible to use corrosion resistant alloys for 3D printing and the answer he got from 3D printing authority Terry Wohlers was a very confident “yes”.

To also gain a better insight in the matter of the application of 3D printed stainless steel in the future, yours truly visited GIFA in Düsseldorf last week and found out that the idea of using the technique of additive manufacturing is widely embraced, for a number of reasons. So let’s have a look at the several benefits that incorporating 3D printing or additive manufacturing technology will bring to the world of stainless steel.

Rapid prototyping

The 3D rapid prototyping process is a technique that allows you to produce metal shapes much faster than with traditional methods. The process includes 3D CAD models and specialised 3D printers that utilise an additive manufacturing technology that is known as direct metal laser sintering. By fusing layers of fine thin metal powder a rapid prototyping metal is created. The result is a relatively inexpensive and most of all time-effective 3D prototype from metal.

Reverse engineering

Another way in which 3D technology will be of use is the process of reverse engineering, which allows you to take an existing item and make an exact duplicate of it. This is done via 3D scanning, a process that only takes seconds. Once the item is scanned, it can be 3D printed to function as – for example – a replacement part that is not obtainable elsewhere anymore.

Product optimisation

Product optimisation is connected to the personalised manufacturing that 3D printing offers. Since a 3D printed object can be completely customised to fit every demand, it can also be redesigned when these demands change. So when for example a stainless steel part fails in function, 3D scanning will help you find any weaknesses in the product. These can then be restored by redesigning the part and subsequently translating the new-found information into an adapted, optimised, 3D printed product.

In addition, the fact that a 3D printed object is a one-piece part lessens the risk of breakage, loose screws or other kinds of problems that are associated with assembled items. Do you still have doubts? Please feel free to share these with us so we can discuss the latest developments in the 3D fabrication and printing sector further.

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