On September 12, around sixty attendees convened in Trollhättan for a comprehensive day of activities dedicated to the industrialization of additive manufacturing. This event marked the fifth and final insight seminar organized by 3D-Action. Moreover, an additional thirty individuals joined the event remotely, making it the project's most well-attended seminar.
The motivation for adopting additive manufacturing (AM, or 3D printing in common terms) varies from one industry to another. It can be about reducing environmental impact, shortening lead times, promoting innovative design, creating lightweight solutions, consolidating components, or enabling decentralized production and digital inventories. For many companies, the threshold to start using additive manufacturing is high, and to industrialize it, even higher. Therefore, the 3D-Action project has provided guidance and support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) willing to take on this challenge.
Over the two years that the 3D-Action project has been active, much has revolved around raising awareness about additive manufacturing. By engaging with companies in the Västra Götaland region and hosting insights seminars, breakfast seminars, and feasibility studies, as well as initiating deeper collaborations with interested businesses, the project has attained notable success. The project, in its form, is unique as it involves cooperation between institutes, academia, and IUC actors in the Västra Götaland region, all focusing on additive manufacturing for SMEs. However, all good things must come to an end, and why not end on a high note?
Equipped with coffee and sandwiches, an eager audience settled in to listen to Leif Johansson and Seyed Hosseini's introduction, followed closely by the day's first presentation. Lennart Malmsköld from Högskolan Väst started as one of three speakers on the theme, "The Journey from Research to Industrialization - Toward New Heights."
The audience received three very different perspectives on the subject. Malmsköld's focus was on the substantial process and material research conducted at Högskolan Väst, including LMDw, LMDp, WAAM, EB-PBF, LB-PBF, and Thermal Spray.
Next, Petter Hagqvist from Procada took the audience on a journey back to the 2000s when Procada's AM-related research began. Hagqvist shared the lessons Procada had learned over the years: the critical role of automation, the limitations of conventional welding equipment in the context of additive manufacturing, the consideration that robotic AM may not always be the optimal choice, and the recognition of titanium as a suitable material for their endeavors.
Lastly, Robert Reimers of GKN Aerospace Sweden directed attention to DED technology (Directed Energy Deposition) and recounted the challenges faced by the company, including design constraints, throughout the journey from idea to serial production.
"We've come to understand that industrialization is a vast, intricate undertaking. While we may have effectively managed the technical aspects, there were likely some aspects we didn't fully address. We've now ensured the integrity of the entire process chain and gained valuable insights for our next product," he explained.
A recurring activity at 3D-Action's seminars has been the opportunity to explore the infrastructure and additive manufacturing techniques available in the region. This time, a guided tour of Innovatum Science Park, specifically Produktionstekniskt Centrum, was offered. Interest was high, and visitors had the chance to examine the components and equipment described earlier in the day.
"It's great that progress is being made with DED, and additive manufacturing in general. The fact that materials can be reused and built upon other materials is a good business case," said visitor Samuel Isaksson from NKC Sweden during the break.
"I've attended all the seminars in the series, so it's thrilling to be here as you conclude," remarked Hanna Turesson from Volvo GTO, adding, "I believe it has been very good. It has been valuable to explore various locations, gain insights into different techniques, and have the chance to participate both in person and digitally."
The afternoon session began with a presentation by Per Wennersten from Ramén Valves, a company that manufactures valves for the process industry, since 2017 partly through additive manufacturing. Wennersten highlighted the lessons and challenges the company had experienced during the process.
"When we started, we were convinced that this was the big new thing that would revolutionize everything. It didn't turn out that way. Our successful industrialization of the process is largely based on recognizing limitations and not trying to adapt everything. We've focused on one material and one supplier, and made sure it works. As a small company, you probably need to find the part that is commercially viable and focus on that; otherwise, you risk taking on too much," Wennersten explained after the seminar.
He believes projects like 3D-Action are important for small and medium-sized enterprises:
"The lack of the right expertise and understanding of how 3D printing can benefit a company without astronomical costs is a significant challenge for small and medium-sized enterprises. Initiatives of this kind are needed for more businesses to be able to utilize this technology effectively."
The day concluded with two immensely important aspects related to the industrialization process: global standardization and chemical health risks.
Representing SIS (Swedish Institute for Standards), Håkan Brodin spoke about the urgent need for common solutions to ensure quality and compatibility. He also provided insight into the ongoing international efforts to develop standards for additive manufacturing.
Lastly, Gunilla Runström Eden and Anna Bredberg from the University of Gothenburg and RISE, respectively, took the stage. They discussed chemical health risks when working with metals and polymers. They educatively explained exposure to nanoparticles, the importance of conducting recurring risk assessments, what can be measured, and what protective measures should be taken.
The attendees left Trollhättan, after RISE and the steering committee summarized the event, largely satisfied.
"We've had productive discussions, particularly regarding standardization and the related challenges. The guided tour was also successful, offering a tangible and hands-on experience," said Richard von Zweigbergk from Volvo Cars.
However, there was still a thirst for more knowledge.
"I would have liked to learn more about the work done before 3D printing, such as preparation and simulation of the printing process, different types of software and their strengths and weaknesses, and tips for ensuring a stable process and a good end result," said Tobias Pettersson from GKN Aerospace Sweden.
"Simulation, how to predict defects," added Richard von Zweigbergk from Volvo Cars.
"There's a lot of talk about titanium and steel; I would have liked to know more about aluminum," said Joakim Storfeldt from SAAB Surveillance.
3D-Action has been a collaboration between RISE, Chalmers University of Technology, IUC Sweden, IUC West, IUC Sjuhärad, IDC West, and GTC, with support from Västra Götalandsregionen and the European Regional Development Fund.
Together, these partners are now seeking a continuation of the project.
Feel free to contact us for more information on how the Application Center for Additive Manufacturing can assist your company.