As the 3D printing industry continues to advance at an exponential rate, the applications and their advancements are becoming clearer and clearer. We’ve all seen the relatively small 3D printers churning out plastic parts for a variety of uses but what most people don’t know is how rapidly the industrial 3D printing sector is growing and how advanced it has truly become.
Hardin Marine points out that they were an early adopter of the technology and that today their ability to bring new products to market are at speeds never imagined. They referenced this concept after seeing an entire aluminum Cobra car body solely printed by a 3D printer. The options are now limitless. Jeff Stull, Chief designer for Hardin Marine, has pointed out that this technology has them preparing to unveil an entire new exhaust product line for 2016.
A lattice of 3D printed Aluminum
3D printing when it comes to metals such as aluminum becomes a process of layered welding. Removing the needs for extensive machining and tooling allows parts to be constructed with extreme detail but without the cost, man hours, and allows for identical reproductions on a massive scale. Consequently, the reduced time, materials, and labor have a positive affect in reducing the carbon footprint and will only continue to reduce this as more units are put into production. Successive layering also removes the needs for multiple parts and components resulting in stronger and lighter final products.
Applying Material to a Job
Currently there are 3 viable means by which 3D printers create applicable products. After going through the CAD program the design is then created using one of three methods, or sometimes even a combination. The first is Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing. This process involves metal powders being sintered layer by layer using a an electronic beam as the heat source. The second method is Binder Jetting, where an ink head deposits glue layer by layer in a powder mold to form a single solid product. The final process is Directed Energy Deposition where processes enable the creation of parts by melting material as it is being deposited. All three of these methods are the predominant means by which metal products are “printed” these days. Saving time, costs, and hassle is a deal breaker.
It’s easy to see that when implemented correctly these processes can have a major impact on the marine manufacturing industry and in turn the boating industry where strong and lightweight parts are key. Imagine the ability to quickly design and print any part from engine blocks, to propellers, to manifolds, and beyond. The possibilities are endless and we eagerly look froward to see what comes next!
Check out the video below showing the process of 3D Printing a Cobra!