Additive Manufacturing (AM), or 3D Printing is part of the digital revolution. It is changing the structure of the manufacturing industry and the way it is operating, especially in countries, where the competitiveness rests on high-end products and short series. VTT concentrates its AM research especially on metal printing, with the goal of increasing the competitiveness of its customers.
The raw materials for metal printing are normally in the form of powders. VTT has a long experience and good facilities to tailor properties of the powders and make experimental batches fitting the purpose in question. Many of the most used industrial metals are commercially available as AM powders. Commercial and experimental powders can be developed for higher performance and functionality. Every powder requires its own manufacturing parameters so that the component to be printed is flawless.
Additive manufacturing can strengthen product development in different phases, like in ideation, product conceptualisation, sketching, prototyping, piloting, product testing and accepting, as well as in marketing. By using AM, a company can easily test its products and markets also when the final product will be manufactured using another method. VTT helps its customers to implement AM as a part of their product development process and so to bring faster new competitive products into market.
Optimisation of products and the printing process
AM gives to the designer a much bigger degree of freedom than the conventional fabrication methods. On the other hand, also AM has its restrictions which must be known. VT have a strong competence in topological optimisation and in exploitation of the potential of AM. We also plan the process so that the printing is as cost-effective as possible and quality of the products is optimal. Parts with internal channels are good examples of products where both economic savings and a better performance can be achieved by using additive manufacturing.
Business models and integration of AM into production
Additive manufacturing forces companies to rethink their business models. As an example in spare parts production the supply chain can be shortened remarkably. VTT helps its customers to answer e.g. to following questions: Does AM bring economic value for me? Which parts are worth printing now and which ones possibly in near future? Can I increase competitiveness of my products or develop new ones with the help of AM? Do I purchase an own equipment or do I rely on subcontracting? How do I integrate AM into my production process? Which kind of infrastructure AM needs? How do I manage the control and quality assurance of the materials, the process and the parts to be printed?
- Outstanding printing facilities
- Active network of leading research and industrial partners
- A deep knowledge in material science and AM process
- Development of business models
- Effective and reliable project execution