Page 38 - MetalForming August 2017
P. 38

Add AM
to Your Arsenal
 A close look reveals that additive manufacturing of the nonmetallic variety can be a manufacturing asset, from prototypes to fixtures to even disposable tooling for forming.
Alissa Wild is on the front lines. On a daily basis she’s witness to the continued permeation of additive manufacturing (AM) into industry, and the reluctance of some in the industry to make that leap. For some, AM is a threat to business. Can metal parts be taken from the presses, cutting machines and other metalform- ing equipment and instead be pro- duced via printing? Not in the quanti- ties and cycle times demanded by many customers, certainly not in the foreseeable future. Equipment and material costs, combined with the need for extensive post-processing to meet precision tolerances and yield accept- able surface finishes, all argue against a replacement of traditional stamping and fabricating processes. On the other hand, by shifting perspectives, AM can be viewed as an essential tool in many manufacturing operations.
Applications Everywhere
“We see a wide variety of fixturing and tooling applications in manufac- turing environments,” says Wild, man- ufacturing aids and tooling lead for Stratasys, a maker of 3D-printing mate- rials and equipment, and a provider
of printing services. “Across industries and across facilities we see many departments—assembly, fabrication, health and safety, quality, packaging and logistics—using AM to create all different forms of nonmetallic fixturing, workholding tooling and final-use assembly tooling as well as actual met- alforming tooling.”
The examples are many. Automotive OEMs and their tier suppliers use fused deposition modeling (FDM, an AM process where filament is heated to a molten state and deposited in layers to build a part) to produce assembly fixtures. The U.S. Navy’s repair facilities,
Fleet Readiness Centers including FRC East and FRC West, actually use FDM tooling when forming limited-quantity parts in runs from one to 500. End-of arm robotic tooling is another common application noted by Wild.
When Time is the Enemy
Time savings is a big factor when deciding to implement AM, according to Wild.
“FDM tooling helps speed the assembly process in the manufacturing environment,” she says. “In other cases, if tooling is out for repair or if a manufacturer is waiting on new metal
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