Frankfurt / M. (AP) – A custom-made running shoes, formed after a few steps on the treadmill in the same business in the 3D printer – the sporting goods manufacturer Adidas is working on this vision. Elsewhere this is already reality: Aircraft manufacturers and medical device companies will 3D printing – or so-called Additive Manufacturing technologies – some of them already a standard. Also glasses and future perhaps even whole car parts come out of the printer. According to forecasts, the market volume could increase fivefold over the coming years.
As a printer, as they are in the office, the industrial equipment one must naturally think not. In additive fabrication of metal or plastic powder layer by layer merged and overlaid to about a component or implant is formed into its desired shape. In contrast to conventional methods, in which a tool part is cutting or routing, for example from a larger block of metal, this method saves material. The technology can bionic – so inspired by nature – forms create, which makes components finer and lighter. In addition, it costs less time and money when individual process steps and transport routes disappear.
Aircraft Company, where every saved in the air gram saves fuel, see huge potential and are therefore pioneers. So Airbus is now with the 3D printing in series and builds double fuel pipes made of titanium itself. That would cost only half. Components made of stainless steel and aluminum will soon also come from the 3D printer. General Electric (GE) expects (27 billion euros) could result in 15 years that a reduction of the global fuel consumption by one percent in the aviation industry to savings of 30 billion US dollars.
SLM Solutions, a companies from Lübeck, which is using the technology in the market since 2011 is one, except for the aerospace industry and the energy sector, medical technology and the automotive industry including suppliers to its customers. CEO Markus Rechlin speaks of a ‘market at the turning point “: industrial customers not only bought a small machine to experiment with the new technology, but increasingly more and larger plants. 2015 turnover has almost doubled compared to last year. The Lichtenfelser company Concept Laser also growing rapidly. A customer from the medical technology already uses the technology standard model: for standard implants such as knee joints
Do the mechanical engineers invent all new.? “Who does not cooperate now, is in a few years out,” warned recently Jörg Sander, an expert on “Additive Manufacturing” at Airbus, the industry. He is echoed by Rainer Gebhardt at which the Working Group Additive Manufacturing passes the German Engineering Federation (VDMA): He keeps the technology in mechanical engineering for “absolutely relevant to competition”. More and more companies sat down to address it, and established engineering company, which – partly with hybrid systems -. Ventured to the new terrain
The world market for 3D equipment and related services had, according to the respected in the industry “Wohlers Report” in 2014, a volume of 4.1 billion US dollars. By 2020, it could then be $ 21.2 billion. A vigorous growth, but the base is in comparison to the hundreds of billions of dollars in conventional machine still small.
logistics company, which today carry many components from suppliers, is, according to the Association of Materials Management, Purchasing and Logistics (BME) is not working out. Even if the future more manufacturers their components produced themselves – the materials would still have to be delivered. And VDMA man Gebhardt perspective: Additive Manufacturing is still a niche. Not every company must follow suit. “But everyone should deal with it in order not to miss opportunities.”