Technology can be defined as the application of scientific knowledge to solve problems and there may be no better example of that than additive manufacturing and the ways in which it has changed the manufacturing sector. While there are myriad issues within the manufacturing sector that cannot be solved through technological means, the spectrum of issues and various benefits of 3D printing may make it one of the most advantageous developments since automation.
One of the most exhilarating parts of watching emerging technologies is watching how the technology itself evolves, but also the way it pushes the industries it supports or impacts to evolve as well. 3D printing is no different. What makes watching additive manufacturing so exciting is that its relationship with the industries utilizing it is symbiotic. Not only are the industries using the tech pushing 3D printer manufacturers to revolutionize and optimize their machines and materials, but those changes are enabling new uses across multiple industries.
The introduction of 3D printing to the manufacturing landscape was revolutionary. When it first appeared on the scene, its applications were limited. The technology was restricted by the hardware, skilled workers, size, speed, cost of production, in addition to other factors. However, it was easy for many to see how the technology had the potential to change the game in the same way that other advancements, like automation, changed the manufacturing industry.
The 3D printing world was, for some time, marked by its use of thermoplastics for parts production. While thermoplastics have material characteristics that made them valuable in their own right, for the technology to really grow and expand it was clear to many that, in addition to the development of new printer technology, materials would also need to be explored. That’s where Markforged’s innovations came in. With the introduction of Onyx and continuous carbon fiber, it changed the way many industries viewed additive manufacturing.
Old habits die hard, they say. Nothing rings truer than this phrase when it comes to developing a process of storing manufacturing documents and files. In 2006, SOLIDWORKS launched PDMWorks Enterprise, later going through various renames before landing on the existing SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard and Professional levels. Dare I say that today, because of SOLIDWORKS PDM, old habits may die a little easier? Let's dive in and take a look at how efficient file storage and collaboration can be.
Once it became clear that 3D printing was going to change the face of manufacturing, a race was on to develop the most reliable and versatile printers to a market clamoring for cost effective ways to harness the tech. In addition to developing revolutionary materials to help produce stronger and more durable 3D printed parts, Markforged has secured its place in the market with printers that offer durability while also delivering high quality precision parts.
In an industry that heralds innovations and new products as groundbreaking and revolutionary, it becomes hard to discern what products, services, materials, and applications really fit that bill. However, one thing has remained constant in the 3D printing industry, and that’s the ability for Markforged to continually introduce new and improved processes that elevate not just their products, but additive manufacturing in general.
While 3D printers may seem like complicated machines, understanding the 3D printing process and the options out there can help simplify it. While we tend to thrust 3D printing under one umbrella that fails to capture the variety of printers, the process, and the materials utilized to bring products or parts to fruition.
By the 1990s, it was clear that 3D printing technology would evolve rapidly. As the market finds more uses for the process, as more materials become feasible, and as the process itself begins to respond and drive development itself, there’s no doubt we’ll continue to see growth in the technology. In the last few years, that growth has manifested itself in the form of Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology which takes the 3D process and amplifies the benefits in ways that will surely expand its use.
In my years of experience working with manufacturing teams, I've seen both excellent and not-so-great practices around welding when it relates to manufactured products. In the not-so-great cases, the problems are ordinarily a lack of knowledge of how welds are defined. The issues may even consist of a failure to understand how the weld specifications are communicated internally from the engineer designing the product to the shop floor producing the product. In some situations, it's even a lack of understanding of the importance of weld symbols.