Robotic additive manufacturing technology for new applications

Additive manufacturing (AM) is disrupting the traditional way of manufacturing. AM transforms everything from the assembly line to logistics to the way personnel is trained. Combined, they are a powerful couple and manufacturers stand to gain major efficiencies.

01/27/2018


Additive manufacturing (AM) is disrupting the traditional way of manufacturing. AM transforms everything from the assembly line to logistics to the way personnel is trained. Likewise, industrial robotics has had a profound impact on manufacturers, touching nearly every portion of the business.

AM excels at small batch production runs while robots are more profitable in high volume environments. When combined, however, additive manufacturing and industrial robotics are a powerful couple. Manufacturers stand to gain major efficiencies from the combination of these technologies.

Robotic additive manufacturing application examples

GE Aviation recently began leveraging robotic AM processes for freeform fabrication. The purpose of introducing robotic AM for their Advanced Turboprop engine was to reduce waste and reduce the number of parts processed. In the end, GE was able to reduce 855 separate parts down to just 12, with more than a third of the entire engine being produced with robotic AM processes. 

Midwest Engineered Systems Inc. (MWES) is using robotic laser AM to create complicated metal parts. Since implementation, they've achieved 99% material utilization and only about 5 percent of any part needs to be machined—the rest can be 3-D printed.

Courtesy: Bob Vavra, CFE MediaAdditionally, MWES has the ability to create parts with different types of metals—such as a cheap metal coated with an exotic metal for wear resistance—much more economically than ever before. MWES can produce 32 pounds of stainless steel per hour—and that's using a 14-kW laser. The combination of industrial robotics and AM processes can produce powerful results, especially for high value parts that are difficult to machine. 

Industrial robotics and additive manufacturing technology are exciting technologies, especially when the best of both technologies are integrated to create entirely new systems.

This article originally appeared on the Robotics Online Blog. Robotic Industries Association (RIA) is a part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineering, CFE Media, cvavra@cfemedia.com.



Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
June 2018
2018 Lubrication Guide, Motor and maintenance management, Control system migration
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
August 2018
Choosing an automation controller, Lean manufacturing
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Material Handling
This digital report explains how everything from conveyors and robots to automatic picking systems and digital orders have evolved to keep pace with the speed of change in the supply chain.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me