•                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      SPECIAL EDITION 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         SPECIAL EDITION 


    This year’s IMTS, the International Manufacturing Technology Show, produced a vintage crop. For the occasion, DirectIndustry e-magazine made the trip to Chicago looking for cutting-edge stories. One thing is certain—the harvest was good! Our journalists brought back tremendous video reports, from self-driving vehicles to industry 4.0 made in Taiwan, not to mention great pieces on 3D printing. Scroll down to see our newsroom’s best-of selections.

    Fullpage Staubli Robots
    With new players entering this market, the self-driving vehicle race might be a feature of the 21st century.


    Watch our special video report. Autonomous vehicles were one of the major attractions at IMTS this year. Several exhibitors were there to demonstrate the viability of such driverless vehicles. Despite the advanced technology, they are not yet extensively used. In search of answers, DirectIndustry e-magazine boarded...

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    AM competes or may surpass traditional manufacturing processes.

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    A few years ago, says Tim Shinbara, vice president of technology at the Association for Manufacturing Technology, AM was no more than an attraction in the Emerging Technology Center at IMTS. But it made its way to the main show floor.


    At the present time, AM/3-D printing is marginal for most industrial applications, but highly used in medical, and growing in aerospace and automotive. However, its industrial use has gained significance, and this year was the first time that AM has its own pavilion at IMTS.

    Many more industries are now turning to the technology for prototyping and tooling applications. But Shinbara believes that as process stability and material offerings improve, the demand from heavy equipment, automotive and aerospace manufacturers will increase.

    He also suggests that there is a trend in the U.S. toward the use of AM for large components, in the construction, heavy equipment and transportation sectors.

    He notes the case of the LM3D car from U.S.-based Local Motors. About three-quarters of the vehicle is printed using a blend of 80% ABS plastic and 20% carbon fiber. The company aims to produce 90% of the car in a single piece through 3-D printing.

    Going Large

    Richard Martukanitz, director of the Center for Innovative Materials Processing through Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP-3D) at Penn State University, says that although AM technology is in its infancy, the list of potential applications is growing quickly.

    Almost all large companies have active programs [to identify] where AM may improve their products, and they are now actively pursuing analysis involving product cost, reliability, and performance.

    But how does this play out when it comes to large 3D printed products? Dr. Martukanitz explains:

    Large-scale AM is already available through the Sciaky Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing Process. This has the ability to produce near net shapes, requiring final machining, up to 5 m in length. Powder bed fusion processes are also scaling to larger sizes for producing parts up to 1.2 m in size having high feature quality.

    Having Vision


    Courtesy of Vader

    Vader Systems has developed a technology for liquid metal 3D printing that uses wire as an input material and produces dense parts at high speeds.

    Magnetojet moves molten metal using electromagnetic pulses, creating discrete droplets on demand. Early interest has come from aerospace and defense companies, explain co-founders Scott and Zack Vader.

    Because our technology replicates inkjet printing, and additional print heads can be added without great expense, it is highly scalable. We have a vision of a machine that contains hundreds or thousands of print heads which will make the 3D printing of large parts very attractive.

    Flying High

    GE Aviation has used AM for many years, explains Mike Cloran, marketing manager at its Additive Development Center. As well as employing the technology in the design and development of its new jet engines, it is now also creating fuel nozzle tips for CFM International’s LEAP engine and engine sensor housings for the GE90-94B engine.

    AM changes how certain parts are made, allowing GE to engage in designs that would be impossible to create using traditional methods. Another potential advantage is reduced part count, by replacing assemblies with single parts. Also, with AM lighter parts can be designed and manufactured, thereby saving weight and increasing fuel efficiency of the engine.

    However, he says:

    Today, there is a limited build envelope, a limited number of alloys and a limited amount of speed and efficiency to build the parts. But GE expects to see more alloys produced more efficiently and this technology will become ubiquitous not only in aerospace, but across industries.

    The corporation expects to produce more than 100,000 end-use AM engine parts by 2020.

    Jet engine with 3D printed parts

    Courtesy of General Electrics

    An AM Future

    Dr. Martukanitz believes AM’s niche is in lower-volume components that benefit by customization or advanced designs for improved performance.

    When the selection of the part is performed correctly, AM competes or may surpass traditional manufacturing processes in terms of cost. But the printing of 3D components takes time—20- to 50-hour build times are quite common. However, systems developers are improving the technology for faster build times.

    While large AM components currently are attracting attention, Shinbara has doubts about the mass customization of large parts.

    For mass production of big-sized 3D printed products to be competitive, there needs to be drastically improved deposition speeds and many more engineered materials with comparable mechanical properties to at least wrought, if not forged, products.

    Larger products tend to require more arduous mechanical property or environmental conditions.

    [These] are most affordably met with metallic or at least the carbon-based composite materials currently available.

    Banner Abus Cranes
    Will the Western players fear the little island’s ambitions?

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    Watch our special video report. Is the Taiwanese Touch the beginning of a new trend in the industry? Taiwan is the world’s 6th manufacturer and the 5th exporter of machine tools. Seventy-five percent of machine-tools made in Taiwan are exported. At IMTS, the International Manufacturing Technology Show that took place...

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    Fullpage Universal Robots


    Camille Rustici

    Camille Rustici is a Video Journalist and the Editor-in-Chief for DirectIndustry e-magazine. She has years of experience in business issues for various media including France 24, Associated Press, Radio France…

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    Hicham Dhouibi

    Hicham Dhouibi is a mechanical and process engineer with years of experience in automotive, plastic processing and telecom industries. He is one of our in-house industrial experts since 2008.

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    Abigail Saltmarsh

    Abigail Saltmarsh is a freelance journalist with 25 years’ experience for industry publications (Packaging Europe) and national magazines (The New York Times, International Herald Tribune).

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    Jamie Carter

    Jamie Carter is a journalist based in Wales, who writes about technology for the South China Morning Post, Mashable, MSN, the BBC Sky At Night, TechRadar.com and Korean Air’s Morning Calm.

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