Additive Manufacturing to Be a Focus at EMO 2017

Industry leaders comment on the present state and future of manufacturing ahead of the EMO conference.

Additive manufacturing technology will be on display along with traditional machining at the 2017 EMO trade show and conference. In preparation for the show, two industry experts are sharing how AM fits into manufacturing, as well as challenges and opportunities for the future of AM and what to expect at the conference.

Carl Fruth, founder and managing board chairman of FIT Group, says that although additive manufacturing has made great advances, it is still a long way from replacing traditional machining. According to Fruth, the expense and specialized knowledge needed to fully take advantage of this technology deter many companies.

Another challenge that users of additive manufacturing face, according to Fruth, is the complexity of additive design, which includes not only geometry but also the properties and costs of materials. Manufacturers need to use different software for different functions, and information can be lost in translation. The number of considerations requires teams to work together, and members often have different priorities. Fruth also sees incorporating additive manufacturing into automated process chains as an obstacle, because specifications are not machine-readable and implementation is not fully automated. Fruth also points out that while AM is currently growing, it is part of a field which is also growing.

Fruth expects to see CNC-based production technology at EMO, as well as AM equipment manufacturers and materials producers.

Software for additive manufacturing will also be on display at the conference, such as Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) software. According to Siemens PLM software marketing director Peter Scheller, it is an integrated package for design, simulation, digital manufacturing, and data and process management. It enables automatic creation of generative designs based on functions for optimized topologies, resulting in organic shapes that design engineers would not likely think of on their own and would be difficult to manufacture with conventional methods. The software includes all steps for 3D printing integrated into a central interface. The company also has plans for an online collaboration platform for worldwide cooperation in manufacturing.

Scheller says that although additive manufacturing was originated for prototyping, it is moving into mass production, and the PLM software provides a process-reliable data format as a basis for manufacturing components dependably and consistently.

Siemens’ goal for EMO, according to Scheller, is to meet with customers and associates to gain mutual feedback and learn more about current challenges and opportunities.

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