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Speaking of Precision

Speaking of Precision is a knowledge preservation and thought leadership blog covering the precision machining industry, its materials and services. With over 36 years of hands on experience in steelmaking, manufacturing, quality, and management, Miles Free (Milo) Director of Industry Research and Technology at PMPA helps answer "How?" "With what?" and occasionally "Really?"

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7 comments

Finally, a Blog on Additive in Precision Machining

Posted September 13, 2017 10:15 AM by Milo

I’ll admit it, I’ve been a bit of a curmudgeon regarding Additive Technology in manufacturing. While everyone in the trade press seems to be gushing breathlessly about additive technology like a bunch of tweens waiting for their first One Direction concert, I’ve stayed away.

I’ve stayed away, because until now, most things that I saw were mere novelty applications. Distractions, or lets face it, quite impractical. Who needs a 3-d printed plastic wrench?

A very nice project but not really a useable tool in most situations.

What have been some of my objections?

  • No practical mechanical properties. Or else requiring a very expensive thermal treatment to develop mechanical properties that are still below those of traditionally wrought products.
  • Low density. Or higher density achieved by absorbing a molten metal at high temperatures like a wick.
  • Cycle time. building a part a thousandth of an inch or so per pass takes a long time. Even watching the laser pulses as it builds up features, layer by layer gets old after a few passes.
  • Tolerances. Newer technologies are getting more precise, but the tolerances claimed haven’t exactly been “hold my beer watch this!” impressive.

So what has changed my thinking about Additive in our Subtractive precision machining world?

NanoSteel BLDR Metal for Powderjet Fusion

  • Mechanical properties objection- With case-hardening steel powder that provides high hardness and ductility (case hardness >70HRC, 10%+ core elongation) that objection is gone.
  • Low density objection- If it is dense enough to perform as roll threading dies, that objection is also moot.
  • Cycle time. Well, the video doesn’t say how long it took to fabricate these thread roll dies, but my guess is it probably took less time than the time to find, purchase, ship and deliver the tool steel needed to fabricate new ones by traditional machining methods.
  • Tolerances. Now, they don’t share the tolerances achieved in this video, but it seems pretty clear that their claim of making tooling capable of fabricating the bolt shown is credible.

So there you have it. A credible role for Additive in our Subtractive precision machining shops.

I’m impressed. So impressed, I wrote this post.

Now where do I find tickets for One Direction???

NanoSteel.

Excitement Photo Courtesy Mama Bird Diaries.

Instructables Plastic Wrench 3-d Printing

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#1

Re: Finally, a Blog on Additive in Precision Machining

09/13/2017 11:19 PM

I recall back in the 80's when stereo lithography was just emerging. It was a messy novelty that did find a home making fragile prototypes.

I spent 10 years working in the PWB etch, develop strip subtractive machine manufacturing world as it was contracting due to the advances in additive technology. Who ever thought you could print circuits on a substrates in a laser printer.

Aircraft turbine blades are here.

It's here, it's not going away and it's gotten really good of late.

We all have to embrace change. This a good change.

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#2

Re: Finally, a Blog on Additive in Precision Machining

09/14/2017 7:50 AM

As far as my uses I like the simple approach for non loaded sensor brackets. Machining them out of aluminum is a pain.

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#3

Re: Finally, a Blog on Additive in Precision Machining

09/15/2017 5:37 AM

We still need curmudgeons!
I have my own version of additive maufacture:- Build up nock reinforcements on a crossbow prod (bow). Wrap thin linen thread round and touch it with low viscosity cyanoacrylate glue as each turn is completed .
This builds up a good solid hard matrix which can be filed/rasped, sanded and then touched with the glue again.
Don't s'pose it has any commercial applications tho'
Del

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#4

Re: Finally, a Blog on Additive in Precision Machining

09/15/2017 4:03 PM

Machining is more fun than additive technology. Ask any machinist.

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Re: Finally, a Blog on Additive in Precision Machining

09/15/2017 5:18 PM

I agree! So is welding parts together.

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#6
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Re: Finally, a Blog on Additive in Precision Machining

09/16/2017 2:55 AM

Ah, but welding is additive....
Del... I'll get my coat

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#7
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Re: Finally, a Blog on Additive in Precision Machining

09/23/2017 12:19 AM

Damn, caught again!

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