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Research Report

Unsettled Topics on the Benefit of Additive Manufacturing for Production at the Point of Use in the Mobility Industry

An oft-cited benefit of additive manufacturing (AM), or “3D-printing,” technology is the ability to produce parts at the point of use by downloading a digital file and making the part at a local printer. This has the potential to greatly compress supply chains, lead times, inventories, and design iterations for custom parts. As a result of this, both manufacturing and logistics companies are investigating and investing in AM capacity for production at the point of use. However, it can be imagined that the feasibility and benefits are a function of size, materials, build time, manufacturing complexity, cost, and competing technologies. Because of this, there are instances where the viability of point-of-use manufacturing ranges from the perfect solution to the worst possible choice.
Research Report

Unsettled Topics on the Feasibility and Desirability of Using Additive Manufacturing in the Mobility Industry

Depending on the industry and application, views on additive manufacturing (AM), or “3D printing,” range from something that will transform an industry to it being another overhyped technology that will only find niche applications. Most views fall somewhere in between, with the most common one being that it depends on the application and technology. Because of the ability to directly produce parts from a digital file, views often include dependence on when and where the part is needed. This introduces the crux of the matter, which is how to determine when the use of AM is feasible and desirable, which is made all the more complicated by the fact that not only is AM technology in general changing quickly, but also the merits of the each AM technology relative to the others are also changing. Finally, non-AM technologies are continually improving and are increasingly adding AM-like capability.
Research Report

Unsettled Topics on Nondestructive Testing of Additively Manufactured Parts in the Mobility Industry

Additive manufacturing (AM) technology, also known as 3D printing, has transitioned from concepts and prototypes to part-for-part substitution and the creation of unique AM-specific part geometries. These applications are increasingly present in demanding, mission-critical fields such as medicine and aerospace, which require materials with certain thermal, stiffness, corrosion, and static loading properties. To advance in these arenas, metallic, ceramic, and polymer composite AM parts need to be free from discontinuities. The manufacturing processes have to be stable, robust, and repeatable. And the nondestructive testing (NDT) technology and inspection methods will need to be sufficiently capable and reliable to ensure that discontinuities will be detected to prevent the components from being accepted for use. As the second installment of a six-part series of SAE EDGE™ Research Reports on AM, this one discusses the need, challenges, technologies, and opportunities for NDT in AM.
Research Report

Unsettled Topics on Surface Finishing of Metallic Powder Bed Fusion Parts in the Mobility Industry

Laser and electron-beam powder bed fusion (PBF) additive manufacturing (AM) technology has transitioned from prototypes and tooling to production components in demanding fields such as medicine and aerospace. Some of these components have geometries that can only be made using AM. Initial applications either take advantage of the relatively high surface roughness of metal PBF parts, or they are in fatigue, corrosion, or flow environments where surface roughness does not impose performance penalties. To move to the next levels of performance, the surfaces of laser and electron-beam PBF components will need to be smoother than the current as-printed surfaces. This will also have to be achieve on increasingly more complex geometries without significantly increasing the cost of the final component.
Research Report

Unsettled Aspects of Insourcing and Outsourcing Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as “3D printing,” has transitioned from concepts and prototypes to part-for-part substitution—and now to the creation of part geometries that can only be made using AM. As a wide range of mobility designers and manufacturers begin to introduce AM parts into their products, the question between insourcing and outsourcing the manufacturing of AM parts has surfaced. Just like parts made using other technologies, AM parts can require significant post-processing operations. Therefore, as AM supply chains begin to develop, the sourcing of AM part building and their post-processing becomes an unsettled and important issue. As the sixth in an ongoing series of SAE EDGE™ Research Reports on AM, the approaches and trade-offs of the different sourcing options for production hardware are discussed in multiple scenarios.