Monday, May 11, 2015

The Two Most Important Technologies For The Ubiquitous Use of Additive Manufacturing Technology

I am sitting on an Additive Manufacturing Panel, Additive Manufacturing + 3d Printing Conference & Expo, in Boston this summer and in preparation for the conference I was asked the following question:

What technologies are being developed that will allow for the ubiquitous use of additive manufacturing?

Below is my answer:

The two most important technologies for the ubiquitous use of additive manufacturing in today's machine tools by the addition of tool changeable laser cladding heads, as demonstrated by Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies, as well as MTConnect, which is the open and royalty-free manufacturing inter-connectivity standard. Hybrid's technology allows for the perfect marriage of subtractive AND additive technologies for existing machine tools. This new capability is a true game changer in manufacturing for a variety of reasons. First, the ability to take an existing subtractive machine tool and give it an additive tool opens up the ability to create parts that would have been impossible to create on a subtractive only machine tool or an additive only device. The world of refurbing parts could be the best example.  Instead of throwing away the $25,000 damaged ship propeller, the damage parts are ground down, new material is added where needed and finally the surface is finished without ever leaving the hybrid machine tool. MTConnect enabled additive equipment will allow manufacturers to easily monitor their additive systems.
MTConnect can be thought of as the "bluetooth for manufacturing" that connects manufacturing devices to applications such as shop monitoring dashboards which can easily show areas where productivity can be improved.

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