3D Printing technologies

Nowadays, with the evolution of production methods, namely with the growing innovation in additive manufacturing, many companies have studied the possibility of changing their production processes. With aircraft increasingly complexity and sophistication of engines and the need to reduce weight, the study and analysis of new processes to adopt in the production of parts for this industry has become important.

Despite being the most used manufacturing process over time, of all metal parts manufacturing processes, forging is being set aside. This is easily explained by the need to produce small, light and very detailed and complex parts, but also by their production in low volumes and with a reduction in stocks. Alternatively, additive manufacturing makes it possible to solve all these problems.

Through a cost model developed at Instituto Superior Técnico, very positive conclusions were reached. Comparing two 3D printing technologies (Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) and Direct Energy Deposition) with conventional methods, the additive technologies proved to be economically much more competitive than the combined forging and machining techniques, implying a reduction in production cost which can reach up to three times less (depending on the production volume).

Despite the obvious cost reduction, these days, this analysis isolated has no relevant impact. Thus, in the same study an analysis of the environmental impact of the various technologies was also developed and, once again, technologies based on 3D printing proved to be more eco-friendly than conventional methods, mainly the PBF technology due to the low need for post-processing after printing.