Examples of Implementation
Additive technologies are a modern and effective tool for solving high-tech problems.
Reverse thrust nozzle
An example of prompt prototyping and production of a reverse thrust nozzle
Problem: In company X a metal 3D printer failed while completing an important order. The cause of failure is a fracture of the suction nozzle enabling a laminar flow of the gas cleaning system. The delivery time of an original replacement part is 3 weeks. Company X cannot afford to shut down the equipment for such a period.
Solution: It took the designer 2 hours to reverse engineer the broken part. It took 20 minutes to analyze the gas flow of the 3D model. After setup, the part was printed with the help of stereolithography (SLA) and extrusion (FDM) technology in 12 hours. The next day the part was installed and proceeded on the order.
Result: Avoided 3 weeks of equipment downtime, the order was completed on time.
Titanium bracket for the moving part of the aircraft construction frame
Weight: 230 grams
Weight: 138 grams
Problem: Titanium and its alloys are high-priced and very difficult to process. The classic method of production provides mechanical milling of forged parts. In the course of this process, more than 80% of the material is wasted. To make matters worse, it is impossible to process titanium sawdust into high-grade titanium alloy (which is crucial for the material price formation). Among other things, in aircraft constructions, it is necessary to reduce the weight of each component as much as possible.
Solution: The method of laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) allows for the production waste reduction since it uses exactly as much material as needed to build the geometry (the waste in the form of supporting structures for printing and sawdust after light mechanical surface processing), thus cutting the cost of input materials. Among other things, analytical methods make it possible to assess the level of load in the part in the course of operation. Finite element analysis (FEA) has identified minimum load zones, and new optimization methods have enabled the replacement of these zones with mesh structures that do not change the overall geometry of the part, but significantly reduce the amount of material required.
Result: The material utilization rate was increased from 0.2 to 0.98. After Lattice Optimization, the weight of the part was reduced from 230g to 138g.
An insert for plastic injection molding
Problem: The preparation of the matrix and punch for the mass molding of thermoplastics takes from 3 to 6 months and is high-priced (from 15 to 30 thousand USD). Moreover, at the stage of testing a need to changes the geometry of the punch may occur, which is even more expensive and time-consuming. Traditional methods of production – milling – limits the efficiency of the punch cooling channels.
Optimization of punch cooling channels for the injection-molding machine
Solution: Printing prototypes of the punch and the matrix with the use of stereolithography makes it possible to assess their suitability in real time and, if necessary, quickly make design changes. In addition, owing to the flow simulations and heat transfer process, the internal structure has been optimized to increase the heat transfer of the part thus prolonging its service life. The punch was made in 2 stages of production.
Step (I) Printing a punch by stereolithography with the use of heat-resistant photopolymer (18 hours). Testing molds on a photopolymer punch enabled the assessment of the quality of molded parts (such punch is suitable for 10-20 molds). Then the 3D model of the punch was changed as required.
Stage (II) Printing of a punch by a method of laser powder bed fusion (14 hours) and mechanical surface processing (2-3 hours). This punch is suitable for mass production. Among other things, improved cooling channels reduce molding time (increasing the temperature and supply pressure of the thermoplastic).
Result: The preparation time required for mass production is reduced from 6 months to 3 weeks. The molding speed of thermoplastics was increased by 15%. Equipment costs are cut from 30 to 5 thousand USD.