How 3D printing will change manufacturing in 2020 and beyond

Design News kept in touch with Paul Benning, HP's chief technical expert in 3D printing and digital manufacturing, to learn about the future direction of additive manufacturing. Benning explained that we will work on mixed-material printing, surface innovation, greater participation in academia, and greater use of software and data management.

Automatic assembly of mixed materials

Benning believes that we will start to see automated assembly of multi-part assemblies that include 3D printed metal and plastic parts combinations that integrate seamlessly with the industry. Benning told Design News: "Because of processing temperature and other factors, there is currently no super printer that can inherently do everything, such as print metal and plastic parts." "However, with the increase in automation, the industry exists A vision for a more automated assembly setup is that two HP technologies (Multi Jet Fusion and metal Jet) can be used for part production. "

Although the medical industry and more recently the aerospace industry have put 3D printing technology into production, Benning also sees automakers as future customers of additive manufacturing. "The automotive industry is a good example of how automated assembly can thrive in factories."

Benning sees a wide range of applications that combine metal and plastic. "The benefits of automatic assembly for industrial applications include printing metal into plastic parts, collecting wear-resistant parts and collecting electricity, adding surface treatment, and even installing conductors or electric motors into plastic parts," said Benning. "The industry is not ready to bring the technology to market, but this is an example of how 3D printing will evolve beyond 2020."

Surface will become a field of innovation

Benning sees the future of encoding data payloads of 3D printed parts into surface textures. "Being able to build something interesting on the surface is a competitive advantage. HP has tried to encode digital information into surface textures. By encoding information into the texture itself, manufacturers can have a larger data payload than the serial number."

He noted that surface codes can be read by human machines. "One way to label a part publicly or secretly is to make sure that both the person and the machine can read it according to the shape or direction of the bump. We have scattered hundreds of copies of the serial number on the surface of the part to make It is both hidden and universally visible. "

Benning sees this concept as part of the future of digital manufacturing. "This is one of our inventions, designed to connect our technology to the future of part tracking and data systems," said Benning.

Universities will introduce new ways of thinking

Benning believes that academic and training programs can provide new thinking processes to free designers from old thinking and enable them to take advantage of future technologies. Benning said: "The biggest impact of 3D printing on manufacturing skills lies in design." "You have a lot of designers who have been trained and grown in existing technologies such as injection molding. Therefore, people inadvertently bias their designs. For traditional processes, not technologies like 3D printing. "

Benning believes that one solution to breaking old thinking is to train upcoming engineers in a new way of thinking. "To solve this problem, existing and forthcoming educators must adjust the thinking process used in production design after taking into account new technologies in the field," Benning said. "We recognize that this will take some time, especially It's for universities that are pursuing degree courses. "He also believes that new software design tools will guide designers to make better use of 3D printing in manufacturing.

Software and data management are essential for the future of 3D printing

Benning believes that advances in software and data management will drive improvements in system management and part quality. This will lead to better customer results. "Companies in the industry are creating API hooks to build a flexible ecosystem for customers and partners," said Benning.

HP started using data to provide the Multi Jet Fusion plant with an ideally designed and optimized workflow. "This data comes from design files, mobile devices, or data such as HP FitStation scanning technology and is used to increase productivity and better deliver personalized products tailored to their end customers." Support for mass production manufacturing technology builds Customize the product to enable batch or batch customization.

Rob Spiegel has been in the field of automation and control for 19 years, of which 17 are Design News. Other topics he covers include supply chain technology, alternative energy and cybersecurity. For ten years, he has been the owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.