Emerson’s Adam Boyle shares the impact additive manufacturing is having at CERAWeek 2017. He opened explaining the additive manufacturing is 3D printing “all grown up”. 3D printing began with polymers being used for pro typing physical components
One challenge for manufacturers is the growing sophistication of products and their component parts. The more specialized the requirements for a product, the difficult and longer it takes to produce it.
Adam described additive manufacturing by first describing traditional manufacturing. Start with a big block of materials and take things away from it to form the product. A control valve starts with a big block of steel alloy material. Additive manufacturing, on the other hand, adds thin layers of metal alloy powder with a laser micro welding these into the shape specified. It adds material to build the part or product specified.
This approach means the density of the materials can change unlike the traditional approach.When designing a product, multiple designs can be developed at once to test which will work best.
From a supply chain perspective, the products can be built on demand with the powders all locally sourced. Powder bed technology is best for smaller technology. Materials can vary widely from stainless steel grades to cobalt and other alloys.