Researchers Complete Comprehensive Evaluation of Manufacturing Methods, Including 3D Printing, for Impellers

EDM and ECM finishing of near-net-shape turbo charger wheels produced by additive manufacturing and investment casting.

Combustion engines uses turbochargers to boost their performance. But, for multiple reasons, there isn’t a conventional process chain for economically manufacturing the component. A team of researchers from RWTH Aachen University and Robert Bosch GmbH recognized the need for a comprehensive evaluation of alternative manufacturing methods for impellers – 3D printing isn’t the only way – and set out to deliver. They published their results in a paper, titled “Technological and Economical Assessment of Alternative Process Chains for Turbocharger Impeller Manufacture.”

The abstract reads, “In this paper, different manufacturing chains consisting of pre-finishing and finishing of near-net-shape parts are compared to each other for a given example geometry. Electrochemical as well as Electrical Discharge Machining technologies are taken into account as alternatives for conventional milling and grinding processes for the finishing of cast blanks or samples produced by additive manufacturing. Based on a technological analysis a cost comparison is executed, which allows an economical assessment of the different process chains regarding given boundary conditions and varying production quantities.”

In addition to electrochemical (ECM) and electrical discharge machining (EDM) technologies, the team also looked at wire-based technology variants (WEDM/WECM) for outer straight geometries, and 3D-(Sinking)-based technologies for inner flow ones. They completed a cost comparison of the methods, based on technological analysis, which, as the researchers wrote, “allows an economical assessment of the different process chains regarding boundary conditions and production quantities.”

Turbocharger wheels – blank manufacturing by investment casting (near-net-shape and finish contour) or additive manufacturing and conventional finishing by milling and grinding

“In a first step a technological process analysis took place for both alternative primary shaping processes of turbocharger wheel blanks and for finish machining of near-net-shape geometries by conventional as well as unconventional advanced machining processes,” the researchers wrote. “Target values were a geometrical precision better than 0.05 mm and a minimum surface roughness of Rz = 4 µm.”

Fine investment casting can be used to manufacture a blank with defined material allowance, as well as electron beam melting (EBM) 3D printing, though the latter with require post processing because of insufficient geometrical precision and a rough surface. It’s possible to finish with 5-axis milling, but due to extensive tool wear, it will require a lot of effort. The team determined that abrasive flow machining and vibratory grinding would not work.

“All technological necessary efforts have been evaluated and aggregated in a production cost ratio relative to the standard investment casting process as basis,” the team wrote in the paper. “This includes tool costs (purchase costs and life time), raw material costs (melt / powder material), energy (average energy consumption) and working costs (salary and multiple machine work) as well as machine costs (investment, net book value, space, maintenance, machining time per part) for main and secondary process like hot isostatic pressing (HIP) – imperative for the EBM parts – and washing. Additional industrial boundary conditions were a yearly lot size of 150,000 parts and working time of 4,800 h. The earnings per worker amounts to 43.75 €/h, the energy price and monthly space costs are 0.128 €/kWh and 12 €/m² respectively. The imputed interest rate is 10 %.”

Production costs of different primary shaping and finish machining as well as handling processes relative to the investment casting process.

Alternative EDM- and ECM-based processes were also included in the diagram.

The researchers explained that the microstructures from 3D printing and casting processes had a major influence on the final surface roughness. In addition, the ECM-processed material was analyzed, and basic EDM research showed that for the TiAl material, the correct electrical polarity had to be clarified. By applying a new flushing concept based on WECM, the team was able to achieve higher ECM cutting rates in a “competitive order of magnitude of 20 mm²/min also for macroscopic workpiece heights.”

EDM and ECM applications for finishing turbo charger wheels.

It was determined that, under the boundary conditions laid down, 3D-EDM is not a competitive  or efficient single process, but 3D-ECM is, when compared to 5-axis milling. Additionally, WEDM and WECM showed low costs.

“It can be concluded that the process chains involving 3DEDM are not suitable as their cost ratios are higher than 300 % of the reference but the ECM variants reveal significant advantages due to much lower cost ratios. In addition for the basis costs, the AM produced raw blanks reveal lower cost ratios compared to the investment casted ones – even for the given series production,” the researchers wrote.

These results are due to the specific material properties of the TiAl material. Because of low costs for the outer geometry finishing, the contour casted samples also had higher cost ratios.

“As a conclusion – for the given boundary conditions – the process chain including 3DECM and WECM of AM produced blank wheels achieved the lowest costs and was therefore the most efficient one,” the researchers wrote. “Further work should include detailed studies on surface integrity for the different machining processes and appropriate positioning.”

Co-authors of the paper are A. Klink, M. Hlavac, T. Herrig, and M. Holsten.

Two French Companies Collaborate to Make the Country’s First 3D Printed Mechanical Metal Watch

While there are those who have used 3D printing to make their own watch cases, watch bands, and watch chargers, others have taken the next step and actually made 3D printed watches, from kid-friendly to sophisticated, wooden to gold and plastic, and even timepieces that can tell you if you’ve had a little too much to drink. For years, I rocked the same black, Velcro, digital sports wristwatch every single day. Looking back at old photos, it was definitely functional, but not at all attractive. My friends joked that they would have to pry it off my wrist on my wedding day…which they did not, I might add. I decided on my own that a watch with a Velcro band and light-up screen didn’t really say ‘elegant winter wedding.’

But a new 3D printed watch that’s the result of a collaboration between French special metals distributor STAINLESS and watchmaking company UTINAM Besançon might be the perfect accessory for a fancy event.

“…we worked in 2018 with a well-known French watchmaker, Mr Philippe LEBRU (who built giant clocks in France, Switzerland and Japan) to build the first watch developed for metallic additive manufacturing,” Jean-Baptiste Sepulchre, the Marketing and Communication Officer for STAINLESS, told 3DPrint.com. “This project is our way to celebrate our 90th birthday, STAINLESS having been created in 1928.”

[Image: STAINLESS]

The timepiece, conceived of and assembled at French watchmaking capital Besançon, is said to be the first automatic, mechanical 3D printed watch made in France. The two project partners are both well-known for their technical expertise and reliability: UTINAM Besançon was founded by monumental clock and original watch creator Lebru, as mentioned above, and STAINLESS distributes special metals to demanding industries, like aerospace and medical.

[Image: L’Est Républicain/Ludovic Laude]

The two companies were committed to having as many of the watch components as possible manufactured within the boundaries of Franche-Comté, a traditional province in eastern France; one of the only exceptions was the Japanese timing mechanism. A 100-year-old factory in Morteau made the watch hands, and a craftsman from Besançon created the hand-sewn, genuine leather bracelet.

The watch case was entirely 3D printed, using laser melting technology, out of stainless steel 316L powder on a Renishaw AM250. Apprentices from the Besançon training center at the UIMM “Creativ Lab” 3D printed the case.

The project came about from a STAINLESS initiative to showcase its values in honor of its 90 years in business. To do so, STAINLESS wanted to complete a project that was regional, innovative, and historic, and reached out to Lebru with a proposition to combine their separate expertise on a collaborative piece.

The collaboration itself can be considered something of an innovation, given that both participants focus on very different end products: Lebru and UTINAM Besançon designs and manufactures original watches and clocks, while STAINLESS supplies raw metal materials, including metallic powder for 3D printing.

Joëlle Verdier, STAINLESS president, and Philippe Lebru, UTINAM Besançon watchmaker [Image: STAINLESS]

But because both of the companies were open-minded, they were able to get past the typical relationship between customers and suppliers and transcend to one based on, as STAINLESS put it in a press release, “mutual confidence and trust,” which resulted in a lovely, 3D printed metal watch.

At last month’s MICRONORA Exhibition in Besançon, STAINLESS displayed the 3D printed watch at its stand. Starting at the end of the year, it will be on sale at the UTINAM Besancon boutique, which is opposite the Musée du Temps.

Discuss this project and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Brad Keselowski Returns with More Thoughts on the Future of Additive Manufacturing

[Image: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images]

NASCAR is a fan of new technology – anything that can make cars drive faster or more smoothly, or help to construct them more efficiently. One Formula One team that has been especially involved in the use of 3D printing is Team Penske, which has been in action since the 1960s and has won 174 NASCAR victories. Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski has 27 career victories of his own on the top circuit, but driving isn’t his only interest – he’s also become involved in advanced manufacturing. As it happens, those interests often overlap.

Keselowski ran his own truck team, Brad Keselowski Racing, for a decade before shutting down in 2017. At that time, he alluded to a new business venture, which turned out to be Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing, a North Carolina-based business that specializes in hybrid additive manufacturing and CNC technology. Keselowski first learned about additive manufacturing from Joe Hoffman, who ran the manufacturing department at Team Penske. Hoffman left the team to start his own company, FiberWorks, a carbon fiber engineering and manufacturing company, and Keselowski began to do his own research into advanced manufacturing.

He admits that at first, he was “skeptical” and “cynical” about the technology.

“Additive manufacturing has been around for a while, but it’s been in plastic,” he says. “There’s something to be said for printing something in plastic. The reality is, plastic parts don’t very often go on race cars or spaceships and things of that nature. There’s only so much you can do with plastic. Plastic is great for a desk toy. It’s not great for an engine of a race car. I had thought of additive manufacturing off the plastic brand, per se. There’s a metal component that’s much newer and has much less maturity that is really the revolutionary topic in my mind.”

When he talks about metal additive manufacturing, however, Keselowski gets excited. He believes that the technology is going to “improve the human experience in a significant way.”

[Image: Tony Gutierrez/AP]

“Metal additive manufacturing, to me, I don’t want to oversell it, but it feels like the new Internet,” he says. “It’s the technology that’s going to take us not just to space, like we’ve been, but space like going to Mars. It’s the technology that’s going to make us live healthier and longer. If you look at some of the medical tools that are out there, they are made possible only by 3D printing out of metal.”It’s the technology that’s going to enable things like nuclear fusion because of the doors it opens in cooling and exotic materials that were previously closed have somewhat prohibited nuclear fusion from developing. This technology is potentially going to open those doors. And that’s just the start. We don’t know how big it’s going to be. We’re limited by our own imagination, much like the early days of the Internet.”

He points to additive manufacturing’s potential for using exotic materials, as well as the complex parts, such as passageways and lattices. The greatest example of what 3D printing can accomplish, he adds, is the GE Aviation LEAP fuel nozzle, which just this week saw its 30,000th part produced. He’s also intrigued by what the technology can offer the medical industry.

Many people fear advanced technology as a threat to manufacturing jobs, but in Keselowski’s opinion, 3D printing is just the opposite – it’s going to open up many more doors in the manufacturing industry. Different doors, perhaps, but still doors.

“There’s going to be a wave of high-end jobs coming up for this sector,” he says. “We’re looking for people that are four-, six-, eight-year college grads because the technology is hard to do and requires an advanced understanding. You might still call them blue-collar jobs, but they’re really high-end blue-collar jobs. It’s almost a new color of manufacturing job.”

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Source: SportTechie]

 

3D Printing News Sliced: Stratolaunch, HP, America Makes, iPhone XS

This week in Sliced, 3D Printing Industry’s regular news digest, we explore the latest additive manufacturing applications and business deals. Stories featured include the new iPhone XS, HP, SHINING 3D, art in San Francisco, PyroGenesis, Roboze, Nano Dimension and more. Read on for a rapid update of all the latest events from across additive manufacturing, design and […]

GE Aviation 3D Prints 30,000th Metal 3D Printed Fuel Nozzle at Auburn, Alabama Plant

GE Aviation will always be known for its 3D printed fuel nozzles, which it began producing in 2015. The complex components became something of a symbol for how 3D printing can change manufacturing, and this week GE Aviation hit a milestone – it produced its 30,000th 3D printed fuel nozzle at its Auburn, Alabama plant.

“This milestone isn’t just about reaching production of 30,000 fuel nozzle tips,” said Ricardo Acevedo, plant leader for GE Aviation Auburn. “The team should also be proud for their role in helping prove additive technology works in mass production for our business and others who buy GE technology.”

In 2014, GE announced plans to invest $50 million into its existing 300,000-square-foot Auburn facility, in preparation for taking on more additive manufacturing. The facility now has more than 40 3D printers churning out parts, and 230 employees currently work at the plant, which is continuing to grow. The number of employees is projected to grow to 300 in 2019.

A fuel nozzle is part of any engine that runs liquid fuels. It is responsible for spraying fuel into the engine, and it needs to be strong and capable of withstanding high temperatures, not to mention precise so that it can release the right amount of fuel at the correct rate. It’s a complex component, one that used to be made up of many parts – about 20, in fact, and those parts had to be separately manufactured and then welded together. By using 3D printing, GE Additive was able to produce the entire component, with all of its twisting geometry and interior chambers, in one single part.

Not only did 3D printing save an incredible amount of labor and time, but it also reduced the weight of the fuel nozzle by 25% and made it about five times stronger. Both the 3D printing and aviation industries, understandably, lost their minds a little bit when they learned about what GE Aviation had done. Thousands of orders immediately poured in for GE’s LEAP engine, which was equipped with the 3D printed nozzles, and the component became part of countless presentations as a tangible example of what 3D printing could do.

The LEAP engine is the best-selling engine in the aviation industry, and the 3D printed nozzles saved a remarkable $3 million per aircraft. LEAP engines are known for their fuel efficiency, which is up to 15 percent better than the best CFM56 engines. Total LEAP engine orders are currently at over 16,300. The engines are a product of CFM International, a joint venture between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines.

“We’re leading the way of mass producing additive parts for the industry,” said Acevedo. “We’re continuously looking at ways of expanding the possibilities for the business.”

And the business will be expanding. Earlier this year, GE Aviation opened a new $200 million factory complex in Huntsville, Alabama that will be America’s first production center for unique materials used to manufacture ceramic matrix composites, or CMCs. CMCs are extremely lightweight and can withstand very high temperatures, so they’re a major source of excitement for the aircraft industry right now. GE Aviation might be taking a moment to celebrate its 30,000 fuel nozzle milestone, but it certainly isn’t pausing its work.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Source: Made in Alabama/Images: GE Aviation]

 

 

NanoE Technical Ceramics for Desktop 3D Printing: Interview with CEO Guillaume de Calan

Ceramics is a relatively new area for 3D printing. Some companies have been active in the space and we have products such as Olivier van Herpt’s ceramics 3D printer. These large-scale ceramics are but one part of the ceramics market, however. Technical ceramics are usually sintered ceramic components used widely in technical applications for industry. Used for applications such as bearings, guides, pumps, intakes and many other components. Technical ceramics typically have high wear, temperature and pressure resistance with low friction. Made out of materials such as zirconium oxide, aluminum oxide and other materials technical ceramics can be designed for one particular application. Microstructure and properties can be optimized and these materials outperform many others in high heat and wear resistance applications. Not widely known outside of industry these components populate our lives behind the scenes. NanoE is a company that designs, manufactures and supplies these materials to many industries. The company now has a technical ceramics 3D printer and 3D printing materials that can let you print these materials on the desktop. By making technical ceramics available on the desktop NanoE is really taking steps to expand the arsenal available to firms using desktop 3D printers. 3DPrint.com interviewed NanoE’s CEO Guillaume de Calan to find out more.

What is NanoE?

“NanoE is a supplier of Ceramic raw materials, focused on technical ceramics for high tech industries, such as Biomedical, Semiconductors, Aerospace, high wear applications… any industry where you need extreme resistance to heat, wear and corrosion. We bring to our customer state of the art raw materials, which enables better mechanical properties, better life time for the pieces and resistance to harsher environments.” 

What kind of products do you make?

“We produce powders and mix of powders with binders, which are used by our customer to actually produce ceramic parts. Typical products are alumina, zirconia and alumina/zirconia composites (ZTA).”

How did you end up making 3D prining materials?

“At NanoE we have always strived to maker our products as user friendly as possible. This has led us to adapt our powders to different shaping process used by our customer, such as pressing, casting, and Ceramic Injection Molding.
The next logical step was to produce raw materials for 3D printing. Using our experience in Ceramic Injection Molding feedstocks, we started developping raw materials for 3D printing last year.”

What is Zetamix?

“Zetamix is our first line of raw materials for 3D printing. When we decided to launch 3D printing materials for ceramics, we had a look at the current market. There are a few niche players for ceramic 3D printing, but it is still very small compared to metal and plastics. One of the reasons is ceramics are difficult materials to shape and process. An other reason is that to print ceramics, you need dedicated 3D printing machines that are very expensive. We decided to take a different approach and to adapt our raw material to existing machines already on the market in number. This lead us logically to start with FDM printer, and we launched a line of ceramic filament that are compatible with any FDM printer. Basically, our filament is a mix of plastic binder and ceramic powder, that you can print with FDM printer, and the debind and sinter in a furnace to get a dense ceramic piece. This process is very similar to MIM and CIM (Metal and Ceramic Injection Molding).”

How would I use it?

“The material is compatible with any FDM printer, but we recommand some small ajustments. First, the filament is extremely abbrasive, so you need to replace the brass nozzle by something stronger (ideally ruby or ceramic tip). Also, since the filament is quite brittle, you sometimes need to replace the etxtrusion gear with a smooth or a grooved version. These are really minor modification, which will take a few hours at worst. However, for those who want to start quicker, we also supply modified FDM printers adapted to our filament.”

Step by step how do I turn this into a final part?

“Once you have printed your part, there is a solvent debinding stage (dipping the piece in a specific solvent for a few hours), drying, and then sintering of the piece in a high-temperature kiln, up to 1550°C. A small furnace can be found quite easily, and Nanoe can advise on the best furnace for our materials. After sintering, the piece will have shrunk of approx 20%, and will be full ceramic, with very good levels of density, up to 99%.”

For what would I use the alumina product? And YSZ? And ZTA?

“All of our compositions are ceramics, so they share some common feature: high-temperature resistance, up to 1800°C, high wear resistance, electrical insulation, hardness… Depending on the material, we will aim for different applications though: Zirconia can be used for cutting tools, jewelry and esthetical parts, and dental application, while alumina will have more technical uses: high temperature, electrical insulation, wear resistance.”

Who are the intended users for these products?

“The first application we see is for our current customer making technical ceramic parts. This new process will complement their more traditional processes to make prototypes, small series, and highly technical parts. On a longer term, we see obvious applications in jewelry, medical and aerospace industry.”

What do these products mean for desktop 3D printing?

“We believe that our Zetamix products for ceramic, and later on for metal, will make 3D printing of ceramic and metal affordable for any kind of company. This could mean a lot more applications for 3D printing, that will in a second time lead to production on more industrial machines.”

What is the cost of the filament and the machine?

“The machine cost 5000€. The filament price depends a lot on material and quantities.”

How to Set Up the Shapeways Fulfillment App for Shopify

Shapeways supports sellers wherever they want to do business. If you would like to sell beyond the Shapeways marketplace and either have a Shopify store or would like to create one, our recent integration with Shopify is a great solution to automating your order processing, production, and shipping by connecting your store with the Shapeways Fulfillment app. No more manual order entry after this integration!

Ready to get started? Follow the steps below to connect your Shopify store to Shapeways.

 

1. Setting Up Payment

To use the Shapeways Fulfillment app, you must have a credit card on file with Shapeways.

If you have previously placed a Shapeways order with a credit card, your payment method will default to the last credit card you used. If you already have a card on file, skip to Step 2.

If you do not have a credit card on file, you can add one on Shapeways.com.

  • Click the avatar in the top-right corner and select Settings.

  • Then select Shipping & Billing.

  • On the Shipping & Billing page, scroll down to Payment MethodInput your credit card information and billing address then click Save Card.

2. Installing the app

  • Go to the “Shapeways Fulfillment” page on the Shopify App Store here.
  • Click on the Add App button.
  • If you are not already logged in to your Shopify account, you will be prompted to login.
  • You will then be prompted to install the app on your Shopify site.

  • Next, you will be prompted to sign in to your Shapeways account. Use the same credentials that you use on Shapeways.com.

  • Review and accept the terms and conditions and click Authorize.

 

3. Creating Products in Shopify

To start, you’ll need to create your products in Shopify. There are two methods for doing this.

  • Method 1:

    Manually create your products in Shopify. For more information on creating products in Shopify, click here to see their guide.

  • Method 2:

    If you have a Shapeways Store and you’d like to import all of your Shapeways products, the Shapeways team can provide you with a Shopify Product Import CSV file that can be used to import your public products into Shopify. Email storefronts@shapeways.com for details.

4. Mapping Shapeways Products

You can now manually map your Shapeways models to your Shopify products in the Shapeways Fulfillment App. To do this, you’ll need to enter the Shapeways model ID and select a material for each Shopify product variant. There are two ways to locate the information needed.

  • Method 1:

    If you have a Shapeways shop, sign to Shapeways.com and go to your Shop Settings. 

  • Select Pricing CSV Wizard.

  • Click Download CSV. Your model IDs will be displayed in this file.

  • Method 2:

    If you don’t have a Shapeways Shop: click on the 3D Models tab. Here, you’ll find a list of your uploaded models. Click on a model and copy the number at the end of the browser’s page URL. This is the model ID for your product. (Example: for https://www.shapeways.com/model/upload-and-buy/1234567, copy “1234567”)

  • Then, you can map your Shopify products to your Shapeways models and materials. Go to the Shapeways Fulfillment app and click on the Products tab.

  • Here, all of your Shopify products and variants will be automatically populated in the first column.

  • For each product-variant, enter the ID of the Shapeways model and select the material you want it to print in.

  • If you select multiple product-variants, the bulk edit tool will appear at the top. You can use this to map several product-variants at once.

  • If you have a product-variant that is not manufactured by Shapeways, simply leave it blank.
  • When you have finished mapping all of your products, click Save.

 

5. Configuring Settings

You can access your app setting by clicking on the Settings tab.

Decide how you want your Shapeways orders to be created.

  • Place orders manually means that you will need to create each order. This gives you the ability to decide which Shopify orders need to be fulfilled by Shapeways and when the order is placed.
  • Place orders automatically means that for every Shopify order you receive, a corresponding Shapeways order will automatically be created.

Decide how you want your orders to be fulfilled by Shapeways.

  • Ship orders directly to customers means that Shapeways will ship the order to the customer who purchased it on your Shopify site. If this setting is selected, the order will be shipped to the address the customer provided while checking out on Shopify.
  • Ship orders to me means that Shapeways will send all orders to you first. This will allow you to complete any assembly, finishing, or packaging that is required before sending it to your customer. If this setting is selected, Shapeways will send it to the Store Address in your Shopify settings.

  • To update the Store Address, go to your Shopify Settings and select General.

Decide how you want your orders to be shipped by Shapeways.

  • Choose cheapest shipping option means that every time a Shapeways order is placed, it will default to the cheapest shipping option.
  • Choose fastest shipping option means that every time a Shapeways order is placed, it will default to the shipping option with the shortest delivery time. If several options have the shortest delivery time, it will default to the cheaper option.

  • You can view the shipping rates and delivery times on Shapeways.com. The address used for calculating the shipping rate is determined by the Fulfillment Method setting.

Getting Help from Shapeways

The Shapeways team is here to assist at any stage during the setup. For help, just email storefronts@shapeways.com.

 

The post How to Set Up the Shapeways Fulfillment App for Shopify appeared first on Shapeways Magazine.

GE Aviation celebrates 30,000th 3D printed fuel nozzle

The GE Aviation plant in Auburn, Alabama, this week celebrated the successful shipping of it’s 30,000th 3D printed fuel nozzle tip. Installed within GE’s LEAP jet engine, the nozzle has been made at the facility since 2018 and marks a significant milestone for production-scale additive manufacturing. Ricardo Acevedo, plant leader for GE Aviation Auburn, comments, “This […]