The New Industrial Revolution: How 3D Printing May Transform Manufacturing
No, 3D printing is not going to put you out of business. We don’t think, anyway.
In case you haven’t heard, 3D printing is a Thing. As opposed to “subtractive” manufacturing, where you take stuff and cut away everything that doesn’t look like the end product, 3-D printing is “additive” manufacturing. A 3D printer sprays a thin layer of material and builds up layers, and the result is the product.
“3D printing has been around for decades,” writes Computer Sciences Corp. (@CSC). “What’s new is that 3D printing has reached consumer-friendly price points and footprints, new materials and techniques are making new things possible, and the Internet is tying it all together.”
It’s certainly true that 3D printing is eventually going to transform manufacturing. No less than the Economist has called it a new Industrial Revolution. However, despite what some people may say, it’s not going to eliminate manufacturing.
3D printing is good for several things. It’s good for prototypes. It’s good for design. It’s good for one-offs.
What it’s not good for is things that need to be manufactured in large quantities. Because of the spraying technique, it takes a while to manufacture an item. Consequently, it takes even longer to manufacture a lot of items.
So, in what cases might you have to worry about this? If you make some small widgets that an individual could easily duplicate at home, that might be a problem. The problem is that while 3D printing isn’t perfect, in many cases it will be “good enough” for some businesses – particularly businesses that never had their own manufacturing capability, CSC writes in its report, ‘3D Printing and the Future of Manufacturing’.
Chances are, however, that 3D printing can actually help your business. Because it’s good for prototypes and design, it can make those processes easier and more streamlined for your company – before you set up the machines to manufacture the part in large quantity.
And because 3D printing is good for small quantities of items, it can end up helping you provide better customer service without having to keep an entire warehouse full of outdated widgets in case one of your customers might need one sometime. Instead, just keep the files for printing the widgets around, and when someone needs one, print it up.
3-D printing is an important trend and it’s a good idea to keep an eye on it and even play with it. But you needn’t run around like the sky is falling.
Image credit: Exact Online
Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing
Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing
What is Ultium Cells LLC?
Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”
Who is Li-Cycle?
Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.
As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”
Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?
By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.
“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).
"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.
"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.
Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.
"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.