Why make a machine part with hundreds of pieces when you can make the whole part from one piece of metal?

This is the philosophy of additive manufacturing and something that we’re passionate about at Croft.

As additive manufacturing is still a relatively new concept, we understand that the multiple benefits of this type of manufacturing haven’t filtered down to being used in mainstream processes yet. Still, it’s only a matter of time.

Starting this year, a new network has been set up by leading industry experts Patrick Pradel and Professor Allan Rennie; the UK Design for Additive Manufacturing Network.

The premise of the network is to bring together researchers across different areas of Design for Additive Manufacturing to drive collaboration and innovation in our sector.

Today, we look at the many benefits of design for additive manufacturing and look to the future of where additive manufacturing can take us.

The Scope of Additive Manufacturing

From Computer Sciences to Energy Storage, healthcare to engineering, additive manufacturing has the potential to revolutionise a broad range of sectors.

Design for additive manufacturing (DFAM) allows manufacturers to think outside the box and forget the old methods of manufacturing to make way for a completely new perspective.

With DFAM, the build angles have to be taken into account and there has to be allowances made for dimension changes. Additive manufacturing (AM) printing software is coming on leaps and bounds detecting potential problems depending on your design and the material you are using – it’s revolutionary.

Design for Solving Problems

In manufacturing, a lot of the design process is predicting and adapting designs to allow for problems or weaknesses which can occur as a result of the limitations of traditional design and manufacture.

With AM, any problems can be designed around during the concept stage.

For example, you can incorporate support into your design. Design for support allows for parts to be made with extra support structures where traditional manufacturing may have produced weakness. Material can be built where it is required and removed from unneeded areas resulting in lightweighted components.

An added cost in any manufacturing process is the tooling and the fastening costs. Fasteners, in particular, can create many added expenses to the price of a part. Fasteners used to connect multiple components of the same part together account for up to 70% of the labour cost, yet they only make up around 5% of bill materials. They are a time-costly addition to any manufacturing process, which is greatly reduced by design for additive manufacturing as parts can be designed and produced in a single section.

And you get the same benefit in regards to tooling costs. It is estimated that companies who purchase additive manufactured parts from their suppliers save around 75% in tooling costs.

How much would your organisation save if you opted to work with a supplier who could design and make your parts using additive manufacturing?

Design for Additive Manufacturing Network

Design for additive manufacturing is only just getting started.

Although AM has been around since the 1980s, there are only a few early adopters who are delivering the benefits of this cost-saving process to manufacturing companies in the UK – and Croft is one of them.

As I mentioned at the start of this article, there is a new network which has been set up in the UK by Professor Allan Rennie, who aims to address the gap between DfAM which is still rooted in academia and bring it into wider circulation in the manufacturing sector.

The programme states: “This network grant aims at bringing together researchers working in different areas of Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) to enhance communication between groups, provide a focus for collaboration and innovation, and to maximise the future impact of DfAM-based research in the UK.”

Also involved in the project is Professor Olaf Diegel, a fountain of knowledge in the 3D printing world and producer of amazing 3D printed guitars, click here to view some of Olaf’s fantastic designs!

As one of the leading AM suppliers in the UK, Croft is excited about the Design for Additive Manufacturing network; the programme is set to run until 2022 when we hope that DfAM is receiving the recognition in the industry it deserves.

Next Steps?

Are you interested in seeing how additive manufacturing can benefit your manufacturing organisation?

We can produce parts of any size and shape from a range of materials, and our AM processes can save you costs. If you would like to know more about our AM services and how we can supply your organisation with the cost-saving parts you have been looking for, get in touch.

Call us on +44(0)1925 767070 or click here to send us your enquiry, we can offer help and advice on manufacturing processes and parts which will save you money – get in touch with us today.

Thanks,

Neil