Video: How 3D Printing Wins in Metal Part Manufacturing
James Anderton posted on May 03, 2018 |

Metal additive Manufacturing lets you do some things which are often impossible with any other manufacturing technique.

In this video, Eric Utley, Application specialist at Protolabs shows us a metal rocket engine model part which incorporates conformal cooling channels within the wall structure, a geometry impossible to manufacture with conventional techniques.

As Utley explained, this part is an excellent example of one possible way manufacturing experts see 3D printing fitting into the manufacturing tool belt: Highlighting its strengths, while mitigating its downfalls, such as poor surface finish, with other operations, such as milling and turning for finishing or threading holes.

Conformal Cooling Channels

Conventional cooling channels and heat exchangers add a lot of weight, material, and surface area to a part. If you can incorporate the cooling channels into the part, you gain light weighting and strength, while providing the same cooling capability.

Additive Manufacturing by Contract

This part is also a great example of an effective use of services like Protolabs. In a typical order, a CAD file of the part is sent by the customer, and the contract manufacturer will use their machines and resources to create the part to the customer’s specifications. In this case, a sintering metal printer was used, as well as a tapping operation, and a turning operation to finish the inside surface. Especially for customers who don’t have these expensive tools in-house, contract manufacturing can be an ideal way to outsource your machining headaches to someone else.

Many of these services, including Protolabs, offer web applications which help customers design their parts for manufacturability. Before additive manufacturing, design for manufacturability meant sticking to a well-established set of conventions, such as avoiding inside corners, non-standard thread gauges, or inaccessible geometry. However, 3D printing is rewriting those rulebooks with entirely new rules for machining and manufacturing all sorts of parts.

Stay tuned for more videos on Additive Manufacturing.

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