3D Printing Plane Parts? It's Happening Today!

August 17, 2015 | Author: Donald Godfrey

Honeywell’s Path with Additive Manufacturing: 
3D printing, sometimes referred to as additive manufacturing, is one of the emerging manufacturing technologies to come upon the business landscape. Honeywell is conducting research in this technology at four additive manufacturing technology centers (Phoenix, Arizona; Bangalore, India; Brno, Czech Republic and Shanghai, China) to produce prototypes, tooling and develop material properties on several materials.

The Basics: 
The process of “machining” a component, or can be thought of as a subtractive manufacturing process because it involves removing material from a “base”.  Therefore, the term “additive manufacturing” could be thought of as a manufacturing process where metal, conductive inks, polymers, plastics, or composites are added (one layer at a time) and joined using various technologies. In essence, additive manufacturing is adding material to a “base”.

What's in a Name? In the 1980s, the most common term used was rapid prototyping and 3D printing.  However, in the current marketplace 3D printing, rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing are terms used interchangeably. In Europe, the term additive layer manufacturing (ALM) is often used.

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has authored a specification for 3D printing referred to as ASTM F2792 which states - Standard terminology for additive manufacturing technologies defines additive manufacturing as a “process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies, such as traditional machining.”  That same standard defines 3D printing as “the fabrication of objects through the deposition of a material using a print head, nozzle, or another printer technology.”

Additive manufacturing technology has evolved with metals and has taken on different names in various parts of the world as early adopters and companies try to differentiate themselves.  The technical name for technologies like direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) is powder bed fusion technology (PBF).   PBF technology can be applied to both metals and polymers and is where the materials used to form the part are layered in a bed and then fused with a laser. 

Some companies use the phrase direct digital manufacturing in an attempt to be unique and set themselves apart from the rest of the additive marketplace. Other companies use the phrase additive metals manufacturing (AMM) to separate metal additive manufacturing from polymer additive manufacturing. 

When companies in North American started procuring machines from Germany, they often used the wording Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS is a copy righted and owned by EOS Corporation).  The word sintering was used because when using polymers the material was sintered and not necessarily melted.  In the metal working environment, this caused a stir because sintering occurs in a heat treat or sintering oven and fusion describes a binding of materials.  To be technically correct with metals, DMLS should have been called direct metal laser fusion (DMLF).  Still other companies now use the phrase direct metal laser melting (DMLM).  All of these phrases and names fall under the umbrella called free form manufacturing (FFM). 

Unfortunately, for the person not very familiar with the technology, all of these phrases and anonyms are used interchangeably.  The descriptions mentioned above refer to metals.  The polymer world has its own use of anonyms and wordings.

Where is all this Effort Headed? 

Honeywell is developing this technology to reduce capital tooling budgets and marching it into production to reduce component costs and to improve quality (rolled through-put yield). This brochure shows some of the global firsts the company has had with this technology.

In future postings, we will highlight some of the components Honeywell is taking into production with this technology, resulting changes in the supply chain and some of our global efforts.

Donald Godfrey

Donald Godfrey

Donald Godfrey is an engineering fellow at Honeywell Aerospace.

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