The rate of adoption of additive manufacturing (AM) is incredible. AM brings a physicality to ideas, and offers ways for people to touch upon solutions that would have been impossible to otherwise imagine. Equally impressive is the scale of investment in machines for producing AM parts, which is of course supported by business cases highlighting reduced development times, fewer prototype costs, reduced part counts, and flexible manufacturing. But, I am seeing more and more evidence that the prescribed route to this ‘Nirvana’ is via a process of trial and error for settings, powders, and even machine capability.
Being dependent on the above approach is stressful, anti-innovative, and a waste of both resource and money. Although Thomas Edison famously made thousands of failed light bulbs before he got one to work, I’m sure he would have preferred to have taken a more methodical and knowledge-based approach if he could.
For additive manufacturing especially, a comprehensive approach to managing machine, powder and settings selection is needed to close the loop of create, test, improve. Robust, pedigreed, and version-controlled data is required to evaluate and support design and manufacturing processes. Intelligent materials data management accelerates the time to value for AM machinery, and reduces the time taken to achieve qualification and certification of AM parts.
Join our live webinar ‘Additive Manufacturing — Understanding critical process parameters and supporting the digital thread’ on Thursday, February 15, and hear how to make AM a standard manufacturing method in your organization. Register here >
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A casual observer at this year’s Material Intelligence seminar (and associated 6th North European Granta User Group meeting), held earlier this month at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry, UK, will have come away with one core message. Whether we’re talking about processes, materials data, or driving a cultural change, the key to success is having a singular purpose and approach.
“Are you innovating with intent?” seems like a simple question but if your company doesn’t have a good materials information strategy in place, the answer will most likely be “No”. In our latest blog post, you’ll discover how companies like Ethicon Endo-Surgery are innovating and raising their materials IQ.
Welcome to the third in our series in which we meet the Granta team. We spoke with our colleague Rhys to find out everything, from what he most enjoys about being a Software Tester to which historical figure provides him with a daily dose of inspiration. We’re always looking for like-minded individuals who have passion and drive to make positive changes to our software development; take a look at our current opportunities if you think this could be you.
“My typical day encompasses a wide range of manual and automated testing. One minute I might be verifying the functionality of a new interactive feature, while the next I’ll find myself working on code to deploy and configure our products on virtual machines via TeamCity. Working closely with the developers within an Agile environment, I know my input is always valued during our sprint planning meetings, and my regular involvement in maintaining JIRA issues helps to create an audit trail of how we are constantly improving our software.
Successful products require Engineers and Designers to collaborate, often around materials choices: balancing performance with aesthetics for the ideal product experience. Engineering curricula don’t always recognise the importance of this connection. Engineers and Designers get only a limited understanding of each other’s work, while Materials is often an under-appreciated subject. Cambridge Engineering Professor, Mike Ashby, published the book “Materials and Design” in 2009 and has worked on several learning tools to inspire Design and Engineering students about each other’s subjects, and about materials. But it has proved hard to marry the quantitative engineering perspective with descriptions of aesthetics that are often variable and culturally-dependent.
The rapid development of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology displays signs of immense promise for making topologically-optimized parts with optimal cost and performance. But with great power comes great challenges! Engineers require an understanding of the complex interactions and relationship between part design, materials, production processes and part performance. Designing the ‘ideal’ geometry can also prove to be a significant challenge. One secret is that succeeding in the real world of AM production requires you to do the right things in the virtual world—in how you simulate AM processes and handle AM data.
Granta recently wrapped-up its participation in Accelerated Metallurgy, a European Union (EU) collaborative project focused on speeding up discovery of new alloys. What lessons did we learn?
Alloys have been vital throughout human civilization – think of the importance of brass and bronze in ancient times. Today, production and use of alloys accounts for an amazing 46% of all European Union manufacturing value and 11% of the EU’s total GDP, contributing over €1.5 trillion annually to the EU economy. It’s a long way from the Bronze Age to modern super alloys, yet we are still a very long way from exploring all of the possible combinations of today’s 61 commercially-available metals. The reason is that current approaches to manufacturing and testing potential alloys are time-consuming, labour intensive, and expensive – making comprehensive studies unsustainable.
Predicting the future is no easy feat without the help of a time machine. Often, that’s a good thing. But, sometimes, it’s not so good – one example being with restricted substances. If these substances are included in products, the results can be expensive fines, loss of market share and stock value, and (worst of all) damage to brand reputation. Many companies are struggling even to avoid use of substances that are already regulated. But, with new substances being added to restricted lists all the time, that may not be enough. How do we avoid using substances that are likely to become unusable during the lifetime of the product?
The 2016 Material Intelligence seminar (and associated 5th North European Granta User Group meeting) was hosted by Rolls-Royce in Derby, UK, earlier this month. One (perhaps rather obvious!) message came through to me loud-and-clear: when you’re trying to figure out how to get the best from a technology, nothing beats hearing from those who are already doing it.
Amandeep Mhay, project leader of the enterprise materials information management project at Rolls-Royce, shared experience of rolling out this program over 12 years. A phased approach has grown usage from a few tens of engineers in one business unit to thousands enterprise-wide. The system collates, tracks, and qualifies vital materials information, and makes it available in a controlled manner. Its homepage is one of the top ten accessed web pages across Rolls-Royce and cost benefits are estimated at £6.9m per annum.