As Industry Explores Additive Manufacturing the Question is: Print? Or Not Print?

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Florida Tech’s Michael Grieves partners with SME and General Motors to develop an online evaluation tool to help manufactures optimize—or opt out of—3D printed parts

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, has grown in use and capabilities over the last 25 years. Though it’s increasingly an option for making parts, manufacturers don’t always have in-house knowledge and expertise to determine the best way to 3D print or if they should 3D print something at all.

Michael Grieves , executive director of Florida Tech’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovative Design (CAMID), is partnering with SME, an international organization dedicated to serving manufacturers of all sizes, to create a comprehensive, web-based guide for manufacturers on best practices for 3D printing. Called the Independent Technical Evaluation of Additive Manufacturing (ITEAM), the evaluation tool will provide manufacturing companies with a system that can compare and calculate the best machine, material and process for a particular application. The system will also offer a community section where users can share experiences and feedback on equipment, materials and techniques.

“One of the keys to determining whether 3D printing is a game changer will be the ability to totally redesign a part, or merge an assembly of parts and make the additive part a reality in production,” said Susan Smyth, GM chief scientist for manufacturing and 2017 SME Board of Directors secretary. “The challenge from the automotive community is the need for hardware, material innovation and availability of design tools to reinvent parts and morph assemblies for applications above and beyond prototype.”

The methodology used to develop the system is called SAM-CT (size, accuracy and materials plus economic evaluation of cost and throughput). The formula will address if something “can” and “should” be produced by additive manufacturing — or if better methods exist based on cost and throughput.

“The information about additive machines and material capabilities that users need to make quality decisions is fragmented and expensive,” said Grieves, executive director of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovative Design at Florida Tech. “This new future requires accurate, reliable and current information so users can make the best technical and economic decisions as to additive equipment and materials. SME is stepping up to the challenge of providing this capability with ITEAM.”

For more information:  sme.org/ITEAM.

 [Text culled and edited from a press release courtesy of SME]

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