This training course leads, almost immediately, to demonstrable results. In the form of tangible components. Many companies already scored success with Design for additive manufacturing. Employees sent to this course, originally developed by Fontys University of Applied Sciences, have already been able to translate the acquired knowledge directly into, sometimes, ground-breaking innovations. These three day workshops, combining both theory and practice, have led, in many instances, to greatly improved product designs that have been subsequently proven in practice.
Partners High Tech Institute and Mechatronics Academy have now enabled open registration for this course. Here you can read more about the background of the training course, its strengths, how its curriculum was drawn up and exactly what it entails.
Sjef van Gastel, director innovative production technologies at Fontys, trainer in the Design for additive manufacturing course.
Additive manufacturing, or simply 3D printing, is a technology that potentially can lead to breakthroughs. To discover the ‘killer application’, Sjef van Gastel, director innovative production technology and course leader at Fontys University of Applied Sciences , has developed a methodology which seeks to bring potential breakthrough designs to the surface: an approach that leads to greatly improved properties of the component or system.
The guiding principle is that 3D printing must evidence substantial improvement when compared to the 'old' technology. In order to do this, Van Gastel goes back to basics: 'We do an exercise with the students. What do their customers look for when buying their products? What is their distinctive character? ' Van Gastel sums up by saying 'You need to go into matters in-depth, think about the characteristics and then map out the added value that the producer can provide.'
You need to go into matters in-depth, think about the characteristics and then map out the added value that the producer can provide.
The methodology to detect a possible killer-app is part of the course. 'A number of proposals for redesign will be identified, which we are going to refine,' says Van Gastel. 'Then there will be a redesign and related design guidelines should apply.'
The killer-app workshop was held for ASML, Fokker Landing Gear, Océ, Philips Lighting, Thermo Fisher (formerly FEI Company) and Vanderlande Industries. 'Together with all the people involved for the product, we looked for parts suitable for redesign', says Van Gastel. 'Working not only with the designers, but also the product managers, service and maintenance employees.'
In this course, participants use the most advanced 3D printers, such as a metal printer from Trumpf and a Stratasys (photo), which is, according to Sjef van Gastel 'the Rolls Royce amongst the plastic printers'.
Three years ago, Ricardo Abdoel at Fontys took the initiative to develop a training for additive manufacturing. In Sjef van Gastel he found the trainer who could just do this. Sjef van Gastel obtained a Master’s Degree (Honors) in Mechanical Engineering from Eindhoven University of Technology in 1977. He has worked in several engineering and technical management positions in production mechanization and automation at Royal Philips Electronics (NL). Then he became manager Technologies & Patents at Assembléon in Veldhoven (NL). Until recently he was still involved as senior strategic marketing manager at Kulicke & Soffa, the American company that acquired Assembléon in 2016.
It is important for them to discover for themselves what the design is and how they should apply the respective guidelines.
After his appointment at Fontys, Van Gastel immersed himself in 3D printing technologies and now leads the additive manufacturing training. He smiles when he remarks that he really makes students get their hands dirty for three days. 'It is important that they themselves experience what the design is and how they should apply the respective guidelines.'
In Fontys' additive manufacturing lab, trainees also have access to a highly advanced tensile testing machine which can test the loadability and strength of their printed workpieces and thus gain insight into the influence of their designs and the way the parts are printed.
He asks students to take with them, on the first day, a STEP file of a part of their machine or product. They will immediately print this part, under the guidance of a practical teacher. Van Gastel: 'That goes wrong in a quarter of the cases, because, for example, they have not learned yet in which cases support material is needed. On the third day we repeat the exercise, but by now they already know the ropes.'
Design is not the only subject of the course. Economic and loading aspects also come into focus. For example, the printing direction of polymers influences the loadability of the printed part in different directions. 'The printing direction influences the process and you have to take that into account,’ says Van Gastel, 'On the third day students can show that they have mastered this, and they will also try it out on tensile testing machines.'
Three days is compact, but all distinctive features that make 3D printing unique are discussed.
In the lab space where the training takes place, there is a highly advanced tensile testing machine that is quite unique - various companies from the Brainport area test the strength of their components on it. 'Three days is compact, but all distinctive features that make 3D printing unique are discussed.'
3D printing differs from conventional processing methods with its unique and distinctive features. "You have almost complete freedom of design. With a five-axis machining centre you cannot make curved holes, but with additive manufacturing that will be possible. This is especially interesting if you have to transport liquids or gases. In a sharp turn you will have a pressure drop, however if that turn has a smooth bend, the reaction forces of the flowing media will be much lower. That is one of the reasons why more than forty 3D-printed parts are included in ASML wafer scanners, according to Van Gastel.
Another great advantage is the possibility to make 3D lattice structures. 'With these you can absorb forces, while you save mass.' For example, 3D printing opens up possibilities that remain closed to conventional technology. It is important to recognise these benefits and to apply them intelligently, according to Van Gastel.
In order to find a correct balance between the desired strength, mass and stiffness, participants commence with a special version of finite element analysis (FEM), called Topology Optimization. With topology optimization you are able to locate material there where it will give optimal contribution to the desired properties of the part. 'In precision machines we have already successfully applied this in parts that have been exposed to high acceleration forces.'
With topology optimization you are able to locate material there where it will give optimal contribution to the desired properties of the part. 'says Van Gastel. 'In precision machines we have already successfully applied this in parts that have been exposed to high acceleration forces.
But 3D printing is not the solution for every problem. Van Gastel is realistic about that. 'There are people who claim that 3D printing will completely replace conventional manufacturing technologies such as machining and injection moulding.' But that does not seem realistic to him. 'For the time being machining has an unsurpassed surface roughness and accuracy.'
He mentions more properties that additive manufacturing cannot match. 'If you buy material bars for conventional machining the mechanical properties are guaranteed by the materials supplier, while these properties for a 3D printed part are a result of both properties of the metal powder, printing process parameters and finishing technology' Also, an important part of the training, is the fact that you should not apply 3D printing where it does not add any value.