Automated 3D printing: Additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing uses sophisticated motion controls and moves seamlessly from design to manufacturing; 3D printing with metal progresses.

By Mark T. Hoske July 12, 2021


Learning Objectives

  • Nissan accelerates assembly, lowers costs with 3D printing.
  • Cummins integrates metal 3D printed production into manufacturing.
  • Contract manufacturers enable additive manufacturing benefits without buying a 3D printer.

Additive manufacturing continues to progress with 3D printing of metal using sensors, advanced motion controls and logic by moving quickly from designs to part manufacturing. Think again about how additive manufacturing can improve manufacturing processes.

Click on each headline below for more details about each.

Nissan accelerates assembly, lowers costs with 3D printing

Automotive manufacturer Nissan integrated 3D printing into its production process at the Nissan Barcelona factory using BCN3D, a Spanish 3D printing solutions manufacturer. By printing some parts in-house with 3D printers, Nissan has cut the time of designing, refining and producing parts from one week to one day and slashed costs by 95%. Nissan is printing 3D materials in plastic and is trialing metal, according to BCN3D.

Nissan created 700 3D printed parts as of June, some costing as little as 3.45€ to manufacture.

Carlos Rellán Martínez, manager of maintenance and engineering facilities at Nissan Motor Ibérica Zona Franca, Barcelona, said: “Outsourcing tools to a mechanical supplier was 20 times more expensive than 3D printing the same parts. The wait for tools went from a week down to one day…. We have paid off the investment in the printers very quickly.”

Cummins integrates metal 3D printed production

Cummins Inc. announced in May it is finalizing its first production part using a new, high-precision 3D metal printing technology called binder jet, a “significant milestone in the company’s additive manufacturing and Industry 4.0 journey.”

Additive manufacturing of the lance tip adapter, a critical emissions component in Cummins engines, provides a lighter-weight design, improved geometry for fluid and air flow, and eliminates cross-drilling complexity.

Tim Millwood, vice president of global manufacturing at Cummins, said, “We’re on the cusp of being able to leverage a broad range of additive technologies to print the parts we need, using the right technology and at lower costs and increased speeds.” Cummins and GE Additive are developing third-generation binder jet technology, for higher throughput, improved quality and lower cost.

Additive manufacturing without a 3D printer

Contract manufacturers Addman Engineering and Wagner Machine Co. are offering 3D manufacturing services with high-value metal parts, without purchasing a 3D metal printer than can cost well over $1 million. Advanced motion controls, real-time sensing and monitoring, and quality assurance add value to machines.

Velo3D, maker of additive manufacturing machines, cited Wagner Machine CEO Kurt Wagner as saying, “We recently had a customer ask us to make a brazed assembly that was impossible due to space constraints and other requirements. We suggested 3D printing, which was their original plan, but other 3D printing companies they consulted said the part would be impossible to print due to thin walls and pressure requirements.”

Mark Saberton, Addman CTO and founder, said, “The full-stack laser powder bed fusion 3D printing solution from VeloELO3D gives our customers the freedom they need to design the next generation of spacecraft and turbomachinery without compromising their designs for the sake of manufacturability.”

MIT adds knowledge for 3D cement printing

3D printing with cement for building and construction markets has MIT researchers looking cement hydration at a molecular level to help. Work includes the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub.

MIT Masic Lab graduate student Hyun-Chae Chad Loh, who also works as a materials scientist with the company Black Buffalo 3D Corp., said imaging research is critical for work with 3D concrete printing, which depends on extruding concrete layers in a precisely measured and coordinated process, during which the liquid slurry turns into solid concrete.

Mark T. Hoske is content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology,

KEYWORDS: Additive manufacturing, 3D printing, Industry 4.0


How can additive manufacturing developments improve processes in your manufacturing supply chain?

Original content can be found at Control Engineering.

Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.