Additive manufacturing, often referred to as 3D printing, is a way of manufacturing that has developed rapidly in recent years.
Reduced material consumption
The method is considered to have very high potential for many different reasons; including less material consumption, lighter components and less assembly. There are also opportunities to make parts that have been virtually impossible with traditional methods such as drilling and milling. Students Oscar Palmblad and Didrik Österå, both in their fourth year at the Master Programme in Mechanical Engineering, as well as Pol Bassas, an exchange student from Barcelona, have spent the last weeks together with a project in the course "additive manufacturing".
– Our assignment was to redesign a part that a tool company in the automotive industry in southern Sweden uses for hot pressing of metal. The part has so far been manufactured in a traditional way with casting and milling, our goal was to adapt the design to any future production by 3D printing, says Didrik Österå.
After introductory lectures and laboratory sessions to learn more about the possibilities of additive manufacturing, different approaches and material choices, the students started their project.
– The part was sent to us, then we designed a new one and ran a lot of simulations to see that the design holds, says Oscar Palmblad.
Working with a part that is actually used in production was, according to the students, both interesting and challenging.
– It was obviously a challenge to be so "locked" in terms of design, the part must give exactly the same end result as the original. We were able to take advantage of the advantages of 3D printing, especially on the inside - cooling ducts that otherwise have to be straight in order to be drilled out, we were able to experiment with a bit, and in our design the cooling becomes much more efficient, says Didrik Österå.
In order to reduce manufacturing cost and time, the group had to minimize the proportion of "solid" material in the part - and at the same time the strength must not suffer. Many hours of work in CAD later now only fine-tuning remains to optimize for printing. The work has resulted in new motivation, the students attest.
– We have had to think outside the box, something that has been very educational. It is an inspiring topic, now you look at manufacturing in a completely different way, how things could have been made better with the help of additive manufacturing, says Didrik Österå and concludes:
– I can definitely see myself working with this. I already have some ideas...