As additive manufacturing becomes increasingly industrialised, it is crucial to ensure accessibility to the most viable production methods. The RISE Application Center for Additive Manufacturing allows companies to test and evaluate the entire value chain and enables collaboration in additive manufacturing between different operators.
Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is undergoing industrialisation at a rapid pace worldwide. this is the result of higher production rates, larger construction volumes, wider material choices, better quality, and access to more digital tools – all at the same time. The number of companies in Sweden that use additive manufacturing for various components or for manufacturing functional prototypes is also increasing. In order to keep up with the pace of industrialisation in Sweden, it is important to both strengthen the subcontracting chain and ensure access to the most viable production methods and their value chains. This will prove crucial for Swedish companies to be able to meet demand for manufacturing various components and functional prototypes.
RISE is now establishing an Application Center for Additive Manufacturing (AM Center). Through the AM Center, companies will not only be able to attempt to print different products, but they will also be able to test and evaluate a large part of the value chain, such as construction and design, material characterisation, printing, heat treatment, processing, and, of course, quality assurance.
– “Some technologies are well represented in Sweden, while others are only available in a few places, and it is difficult for many companies to access, use, and test those technologies,” says Seyed Hosseini, a researcher at Chalmers University of Technology and head of the AM-center at RISE. “As we are now bringing together several technologies and sub-stages in the value chain, RISE’s infrastructure and expertise become unique and comprehensive, which is vital for supporting our industry in the transition to more sustainable production.”
In the RISE AM Center, companies are given opportunities to try implement an idea across the entire chain to production. It may also involve testing software and seeing how it functions before it is tested in an existing system.
– Because many operators within additive manufacturing make use of RISE and AM Center, it serves as a place they can meet and where new collaborations can be initiated,” says Hosseini.
There is substantial interest from both large and small companies to test and evaluate additive manufacturing in the hope of finding new business opportunities and strengthening their competitiveness. However, for many SMEs, the costs and lack of knowledge can be daunting, which makes them hesitant to take the plunge and adopt a completely new technology.
– “When you start talking about productivity in additive manufacturing and realise that manufacturing a number of different parts in metallic materials can take up to a day, it can sound very slow compared to traditional processes where you have completely different takt times,” explains Hosseini. “But here it’s important to see the whole, where you can probably consolidate several components into a single article, eliminate different process steps, and greatly reduce material waste – which ultimately leads to a shorter total lead time while producing a product that is, quite simply, better. We need to raise the level of skill in most companies in Sweden and together identify different business models that will encourage the industry to invest in the technology.”
We can help guide companies as they progress further into this environment
Because the RISE AM Center is geared towards all operators in additive manufacturing – end users, machine and material suppliers, and software providers – it will also be able to contribute to the development of new standards. SIS, of which RISE is a member, works to develop new industry standards together with Swedish companies as well as international operators. RISE participates in various subgroups through which knowledge and data from various research projects can contribute to developing our future standards. Having standards in place will further accelerate the development of additive manufacturing.
– “In the future, a lot of the things in our surroundings will be produced by additive manufacturing, since the benefits gained in terms of the production process, design and material use are so great. We want a lot of it to be made in Sweden, or at least for the potential to exist. Therefore, RISE works to expand the use of this technology as well as build more confidence in it. Swedish companies have achieved varying degrees of progress, but at RISE we have broad and extensive expertise. We can help guide companies as they progress further into this environment,” concludes Seyed Hosseini.