I guess I shouldn't be surprised that most are skeptical. However, I find it humorous that respondents are concerned about product quality, yet cite the main uses today are medical and aerospace. Does that mean a papermachine's components are more critical and manufactured to higher standards than in the medical or aerospace industries? One respondent thinks I am gleefully trying to take profits away from machinery manufacturers. I hope not, we depend on suppliers for advertising revenues! Friends, all things reduce to the lowest cost for the quality required and they do that very quickly. In this case, I think most mills will be making high-strength metallic parts on site no later than 2020. Again, look how fast the PC overwhelmed the workplace. In this case, the skill level of the worker replaced will be much lower than the skill level of the worker now making parts, that will drive this quickly, first in the machinery manufacturer's own shops. The warning to machinery manufacturers is to prepare for this and plan on changing your business model to protect your longevity for the source of profits in spare parts is certainly going to diminish soon.
Here are the questions and the answers:
Questioin 1: Are you familiar with additive manufacturing and 3-D printing?
Question 2: What ways can you think of to use additive manufacturing in your mill?
- At the moment, small non-critical parts could be made instead of purchased
- Reducing stores
- In projects to show how things are going to be in a rebuild for example
- To manufacture spare parts at site,reduce inventory cost & space and manpower for upkeepment
- Spares, needed in a hurry. Probably mostly small plastic parts that are tricky but have minimal strength requirements
- Combined with 3-D imaging to scan a part and then integrate with add. mfg/3- D printing, stocking of low volume, high cost parts will be impacted significantly. Also it should be easy to make design updates on OEM parts to improve them in the field
Question 3: What pitfalls do you see to additive manufacturing?
- Patent infringement
- Missing key components of equipment resulting in failures. Difficulty getting technical support if suppliers are out of spare parts business
- Long downtime when parts are been made
- 1.Highly skilled manpower is required. 2.invetment required for faciities for onsite manufcturing
- The hype is far exceeding current capability, and some of the predictions will not happen in our life time. The best opportunity in our industry is for what you say - part replacement. But in that area there are limitations in what devices can process. There are a few polymers that can be matched - but there is a long way to go before they can replace mission critical items with useful durability. Devices to do the job properly are expensive - A $2500 device is a training tool. To make good plastic parts requires a much more sophisticated machine. The key metric is volume per unit time. For computers we are used to Moore's law - capability doubling every 18 months. 3D modelling has been around 30 years (we call it stereolithography) and today's machines are not much faster than those of the 90s. Aerospace, automotive and medical are the primary users. Medical is the most into production - orthodontics and orthopedics. What else can I tell you.
- We are still a VERY long way from making high strength components, but it may come
- Being sure that the final product is 'finished' in such a manner as to achieve OEM or better reliability characteristics (hardness, corrosion resistance, wear resistance, ductility, etc.) prior to installing the device will be a challenge
- Technology for steel parts, especially parts for high wear applications such as pump and pulper rotors is years away and manufacturers will strengthen patents to prevent copying. In your article you sound like you are against the maunfacturers. You should be happy they exist. They poured millions into develpment so the industry would improve, of course also for profit. Now you advocate mitigating that profit through technology so the end user can circumvent the equipment manufaturer for parts. Shame on you.
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Want to be heard on other subjects? Be sure to watch for "Paperitalo Second Tuesday Surveys."