Layer manufacturing, also called 3-D printing, is causing a sensation in manufacturing companies. This technology allows them to quickly manufacture parts and test their reliability at a very affordable price.
Although powder bed fusion is the most popular and well-known process of all, other technologies also merit being used. Depending on the manufacturing process chosen, printers can produce complex, hollow parts out of metal or different plastic substances! The method best adapted to the product’s needs must be chosen based on the specific part’s usage.
René Gendron (Maison régionale de l’industrie), Pierre Lafrance (Réseau Trans-Tech), Josée Fortin (Sherbrooke Innopole), Alexandre Bois-Brochu (Centre de métallurgie du Québec), Olivier Custeau-Boisclair (ArjoHuntleigh Magog) and Jacques Beauvais (Université de Sherbrooke)
GATE organized a breakfast event in May 2016, at which Alexandre Bois-Brochu, Centre de métallurgie du Québec Project Lead, listed the different technologies used in the world of 3-D printing:
- Laser powder bed fusion: Technology used at the CRIQ and the ÉTS. This method is useful to create complex forms with a smooth finish.
- Electron beam melting: The ideal method to produce several parts at once, because several objects may be piled up on the printing platform.
- Directed energy deposition (DED): Perfect for printing large parts that are less complex with a less smooth finish. It is possible to add pieces to existing parts.
- Ultrasonic welding: A cold-printing method enabling electrical circuits to be incorporated into parts.
- Photopolymerization: Process enabling the creation of complex shapes out of polymers, and the customization of products, like dental moulds.
Material jetting (thermoplastic polymers): Used to manufacture moulds using wasted wax.
- Binder jetting: Perfect for manufacturing small parts, out of gold, for example, and creating moulds.
Concrete applications in a business setting
Olivier Custeau Boisclair, R&D Project Lead at ArjoHuntleigh in Magog, regularly uses 3-D printing in his work. It allows him to test new ideas. 3-D printing enables the creation of several versions sometimes at a fast pace. It is no longer necessary to produce expensive moulds for each cycle!
Some inconveniences have been revealed by the company, such as the limited choice of materials, but the positive outweighs the negative. “3-D printing has had a positive impact on our company’s development; it helped us reduce our lead time and budget.” ArjoHuntleigh in Magog has already ordered its own 3-D printer, and it should arrive soon!
A local business in the niche market of 3-D printing
Tekna, a Sherbrooke business, is putting 3-D printing to good use! This business manufactures spherical powder normally used in this industry. For more information on this growing business, read our blog on this subject.