Manufacturing has always been part of society, since people started gathering to create communities. Of course, the process of production has changed a lot through time. It did make a giant leap forward over the last few years, though, thanks to a new technology called additive manufacturing. Below, you will find an explanation of what it is, and how it has changed the way manufacturing of metal parts is done today.
What is Additive Manufacturing?
If you are not part of the manufacturing industry, you probably never heard these words before. That said, you certainly know the other name that this technology goes by, which is 3D printing. Contrary to popular belief, this technology does not only use plastic to produce objects, but also metal. DED additive manufacturing (Directed Energy Deposition) uses the same CAD software that is used for 3D plastic print, except that the technology uses metal as its main material. Through a powerful source of energy, the metal is liquified to be added, in layers, to a surface that needs repair or even to create a completely new object.
There are various processes that can be used in additive manufacturing. However, they all imply that metal will be applied through melting a rod or by using powder metal, one layer, on top of another. It is the plan inserted into the software that tells the machine how to do the work. It can create extremely complex objects, from the moment you tell it to run the design that you have imagined.
Why is it Changing Manufacturing of Metal Parts?
Before this technology came to help, the production methods required steps that are not needed anymore. For example, most of them had to first create a sample, through moulding. This part of the work was expensive and took time. If ever something was wrong with the final sample, then a new one would have to be created, which meant losing more time and spending more money. With additive manufacturing, you can create the sample directly through this technology. Therefore, you can repeat the process as many times as you want, by changing the design you insert into the software, until you get the result that you were looking for. There is no more waiting for a mold to be created, nor are there extra expenses.
From the moment the sample is approved, you can start printing as many replicas as you want. That is also an important novelty brought in by the technology. In previous production processes, there often were minimum quantities that you would have had to produce, for the suppliers to launch the production chain. In this case, even if the customer only wants one, it is not an issue anymore. All the supplier has to do is to insert the design inside the software and let the machine do the work. Then, it can move on to another design, right away.
Additive manufacturing is here to stay. As it evolves through time, it will develop new qualities. But today, it has already surpassed old production processes by a wide margin.