3D metals printing: how will it look in five years?
Jack Beuth, director of the NextManufacturing Center at Carnegie Mellon University and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, predicts that there will be five key advances in metals additive manufacturing over the next five years – and researchers from the NextManufacturing Center are currently working on projects to help these advances take place.
- Process Design: Users will be able to design the additive manufacturing process as they design the geometry of a part; therefore, the additive manufacturing process variables can be optimized based on the part geometry and specifications.
- Monitoring and Control: Users will be able to monitor and control the additive manufacturing process. Current processes are not significantly monitored or controlled by sensors.
- Material Microstructure: Users will be able to vary the material microstructures and properties in different locations of a part by manipulating additive manufacturing process variables as a part is being built.
- Powders: Users will be able to use a wide variety of metal powders. Currently, users must use specific powders with very narrow ranges of particle sizes, which makes them expensive to produce.
- Porosity: Users will be able to eliminate or design for internal porosity, which will have a significant effect on fatigue resistance and build rate.
“NextManufacturing research at Carnegie Mellon will help enable these advances, which will significantly increase build rate and reduce cost, improve properties such as fatigue resistance, allow for customization of the entire process, and, ultimately, increase the widespread adoption of metals additive manufacturing,” says Beuth. “At the Center, we are developing an entirely new approach to metals additive manufacturing – merging data from all parts of the process to create a fully integrated understanding of the technology. This approach will optimize part geometries, material properties, cost and design.”
IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.