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3D printing as a competitive edge

Additive Manufacturing (AM) - towards the digital revolution

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.

Materials development

VTT has a long history and good facilities to tailor properties of printable metal powders and make experimental batches fitting the purpose in question. Powders are developed for higher performance and functionality, with manufacturing parameters optimized so that the component to be printed is flawless.

​Optimisation of products and the printing process

AM gives to the designer a much bigger degree of freedom than the conventional fabrication methods, while on the other hand AM has restrictions that must be known and understood. VTT has a strong competence in topology optimisation and in exploitation of the potential of AM. We combine this with a carefully planned print process to minimize cost while optimizing product quality.

Business models and integration of AM into production

Additive manufacturing forces companies to rethink their business models. VTT helps its customers to answer e.g. the following questions: Does AM bring economic value for me? Which parts are worth printing now and which ones possibly in the future? Can I ​increase the competitiveness of my products or develop new ones with the help of AM? How do I integrate AM into my production process? How do I manage the control and quality assurance of the materials, the process and the parts to be printed?

 

​​Advanced manufacturing techniques such as additive manufacturing are offering much greater geometric freedom in design than was previously possible. In order create products that are utilizing this new-found freedom to improve performance and reduce production costs, new approaches to design and optimization need to be considered – with the limitations of the chosen manufacturing technique considered from the very start of the design process.

 

​VTT has experts in structural design and analysis, advanced manufacturing techniques, and material science all under one roof. By combining knowledge and understanding of finite element based optimization methods (topology, shape, size, etc) with the limitations unique to a given manufacturing process it is possible to design functionally superior and/or reduced-cost solutions that are manufacturable.

 

​Potential positive outcomes from this design process include:

  • Reduced material costs
  • Lightweight or functionally superior design
  • Shorter time to market
  • Easier and cheaper customization of parts
  • Reduction in the complexity of the manufacturing process

 

References:

 

Contacts:

Juha Virtanen
Team Leader
+358405359685
Juha.Virtanen@vtt.fi

Erin Komi
Research Scientist
+358406829705
Erin.Komi@vtt.fi

 

​​VTT´s AM facilities

​​For printing of metal parts VTT has a SLM 125 HL machine, which due to its open architecture is very suitable for developing the process and materials. It can print e.g. aluminium alloys, tool steels, stainless steels, inconel, stellite and titanium. The build volume is 125x125x125 mm. Through partners VTT has an entry also to much bigger machines. For product development VTT has a number of plastics printers and a gypsum printer which is producing colourful models.

In order to add functionality onto products VTT has two direct write machines which can produce different layers and structures on 3D surfaces. DWTS (Direct Write Thermal Spray) is for deposition of different antennas and sensors for very demanding circumstances, while by DWP (Direct Write Paste) one can deposit a large range of materials, from conducting
and insulating materials to sol-gel and biomaterials.

Picture:​ VTT:n SLM 125 HL equipment can print parts of high quality from a wide range of metals and it can be used also for material development

 


VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd was happy to host the NAFEMS
conference titled Exploring the Design Freedom of Additive Manufacturing through Simulation in Helsinki on 22-23.11. The 110 participants heard presentations from industry, research institutes and universities covering a wide range of topics, including sessions on AM process simulation, topology optimization, new design and simulation approaches, and a workshop on the creation of design guidelines for selective laser melting. Thank you to all those who contributed to this interesting and informative event!
 
Links to VTT contributions:

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