Did you think 3D printing was only for complex parts and prototypes? Think again: additive manufacturing is completely disrupting industrial production, as explained by Yann Raguel, director of manufacturing solutions for the Europe region at the printer manufacturer Stratasys.
A few years ago, we presentedas a fun way to print mugs and figurines in at home. Very few individuals are in fact equipped. On the other hand, 3D printing is indeed revolutionizing the industry – where it is moreover called “additive manufacturing”. , electronics, health, , … all sectors are concerned. Yann Raguel, director of manufacturing solutions for the Europe region at the printer manufacturer , tells us about the advantages of this new manufacturing method.
Futura: When did 3D printing really take off in the industry?
Yann Raguel : I would say that we have seen a strong acceleration over the past two or three years. Initially, 3D printing was mainly used for prototyping or complex parts, but we are now seeing a strong diversification of uses and sectors concerned, in medical, automotive, rail, sportswear, interior design. interior or even consumer goods.
Futura: Why have companies switched to 3D printing?
Yann Raguel: When the Chinese industry was shut down last year, companies realized that they were very dependent on their supplies from abroad. Today, they suffer from the shortage of containers or key components for their products. 3D printing is a way to regain control of your supply chain: you don’t depend on a supplier or transport; you can manufacture a variety of products in-house and relocate part of your production.
Futura: Can we speak of a real industrialization of 3D?
Yann Raguel: Absolutely. The new techniques that we have just launched, such as SAF (SelectiveFusion), can print tens of thousands of parts one after the other. The printer deposits a fluid on a bed of powder, then the thanks to a lamp to obtain the desired shape. This makes it possible to standardize production as on a conventional production line, while reducing defects. One can thus manufacture thousands of parts for a car, for example air vents, pipes of or cup holders.
Futura: What is the point of printing parts in 3D rather than manufacturing them on a traditional production line?
Yann Raguel: I will take an example. In a train, you have thousands of components that can break or fail. Except you don’t know when you’ll need to replace them, forcing a huge stock of spare parts. With 3D printing, you just need to store a digital file, and when a part fails, print it on demand.
3D printing is a way to fight against planned obsolescence
Also think of all the household appliances, which one often cannot manage to repair because the manufacturer does not have any more spare parts. 3D printing is a great way to fightand increase the life of a product! But that’s not all. Because it also makes it possible to simplify the components, because we will, for example, be able to replace three parts by one. This gives more coins , better quality and less likely to break down.
Futura: But all the same, 3D printing is very slow when you see machines that take hours to deposit layers of material!
Yann Raguel: We have to put things in perspective. With the SAF, approximately 150 pieces of 10 centimeters are printed in 12 hours. After a month, you therefore have 9,000 coins. If you want to do this with a conventional machine, you have to make a mold first, which will take a minimum of eight to twelve weeks. In the meantime, you have zero production! 3D printing allows a product to be launched immediately, and if it doesn’t work, you don’t have a mold made for nothing. In addition, you can customize the parts, for example add a“Leather” or “fabric” . This allows more options to be offered to the customer without increasing costs.
Futura: The medical field is one of the first users of 3D printing. Can you give us some examples?
Yann Raguel: As I said, 3D printing allows objects to be personalized, which is ideal for making custom-made orthopedic insoles,dental or some . Soon you will no longer have a big when you break your arm, but a on printed in 3D, which uses less material and lets the skin breathe. We have also established a partnership with the Bordeaux University Hospital, which models in 3D reproducing the exact patient. This allows the surgeon to better visualize the operation to be performed and to avoid damage to the and adjacent vessels.
Initially, 3D printers only worked with plastic. But now we see lots of new materials, metal, glass or even bio-printing! Does that mean that we can potentially 3D print anything?
It is not that simple, especially when you want to obtain parts made of several different materials. Each having its own temperature of, it is difficult to mix them on the same object. On the other hand, it is possible to have an object made up of several or with transparent resins. We also work with biobased plastic based on oil from . It’s a entirely of plant origin that can be recycled endlessly: at the end of its life, the part is melted and reprinted. A perfect example of !