With 3D Printing, you can just go directly from your 3D design to Production, for more and more people are starting to understand its capabilities; forgetting the old days of just producing a prototype and now going directly into production. Now, you just start producing from day one.
If a customer is large enough to implement a solution like this in their organization, then we start off with a business value assessment, where we map the current procedures against industry standards and based on that document then we implement our portfolio, which consists of roughly about 7 000 products, in order to be able to optimize really, the way that they do things, so that they can become a lot more efficient in their operations.
Here, I want to present to you initiative of D2M solutions. It’s a car, 3D printed car – fully functional model.
D2M solutions is the only complete solution provider in the Middle East for complete design to manufacturing applications. And we’ve been in Dubai for the last 5 years now.
Our engineer designed these in a 3D design software – Catia, from Dassault Systems and it’s fully printed, the body car and let us see, even the tires printed in a Stratasys printers here in our workhouses, D2M solutions in Dubai and our engineer in team, Mr. Leonardo Bilalis, designed the car.
Well, we are trying help our customers optimize the way they design products and then figure out the best way to produce them after. So, obviously we carry technologies like PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), we work with Dassault on the 3D Experience Platform, we cover 3D Scanning & Reverse Engineering, and we also work with 3D Printing and some Casting solutions, if our customers require metal parts.
Here I have a drill head completely 3D printed. It’s a display model for an exhibition, required from a customer of ours. The customer of ours is in an Oil & Gas Company; they use this head drill, to extract the oil from the offshore.
So, we’ve decided to go to the Print & Packaging exhibition, because we’re actually showcasing a new solution for the design of the product and the packaging. We’re introducing a new platform, where companies can design the entire digital product, tested in a digital environment, before they invest any money in a physical prototype and then using certain tools like 3D printing they will be able to then start testing whatever they have designed, in a physical form, without having to invest in any tooling cost. And really shorten the design to delivery cycle, so that in the end they can guarantee that they have the product which works for them and works for the customers. The concept is to test things in a digital environment, using some kind of simulation, so then you can test – a strength, the resistance, all these issues that you’d have to do with a physical product, so that you can finalize 99, 9% of anything that could go wrong in a digital environment, which is free of course and then proceed to your final production, knowing that you’re almost, definitely there.
Well, because these solutions are modeling, obviously customers that can’t afford, that aren’t prepared yet to implement an entire solution in-house, can take advantage of our services. So, by saying that, maybe they want to go for the design environment, but don’t want to go for the 3D printing or the 3D scanning. In these systems, we help them out by allowing them to use our facilities, in order to get their job done, without having the overhead of having the equipment in a house.
The problem with Defence is that it’s highly secretive. So, we stumble across new applications every day. I mean, recently we did some radomes for military and we tested it against the OEM part, and the printed part performed twice as well, as the OEM part. Obviously with Defence budgets and the amount of spare parts, they can assume for them this is the huge saving and it’s true – just in time, because you can have a digital library of parts and when one breaks, you just click a button and it appears in a couple of hours, so you don’t have to stock, or have this huge logistics monster behind, trying to source these parts. In theory, any industry that uses 3D, will need the prototype, or will need some way to produce their products at some point. So, the main industries that we cover are Aerospace & Defence, Packaging of course, Education, which is a big part of our business, just educating the next generation of engineers to use these type of technologies; we work with Ship building, we work with Architecture offices and Construction, so as I’ve said, pretty much anywhere where there is a 3D file, we have a solution to match that market.
This is actually a Powerwall system – that means that it uses 4 projectors, which project at varied rates, which when wearing flicker glasses you get the impression that the model is coming out of the screen. So, the type of glass would be this; you’ll notice that this has some reflective targets on it, that’s because with our system we have active tracking, so if you move your head, the display will move also. So, you really get the idea that you are immersed in the actual product itself. Now, we’ve talked about a 3D printing before; it’s not always practical when you have large projects, so when we’re visualizing a train or a building or something of that scale, this type of solution is a lot more effective at giving the first steps for design approval to a customer.
First of all, you have to say that there is no such thing as a bad technology, when it comes to 3D Printing. All technologies are good, but they are good for specific tasks. The systems that we carry, the FDM systems with thermoplastics, suit our business because we use them primarily for end-use production of manufacturing tools. So, we need that durability of the proper thermoplastics to do that. An engineers also like working with them, because the products that come out of our systems mimic products that would have been main tradition in, by injection molding, for example, so the properties are quite well known at. In recent years, you have an emergence of laser technologies, where you have laser sentry, SLS and SLA. These technologies offer the famous metal printing. The Big Boom happened a couple of years ago with the introduction of $1 000, $600 commercial machines. So, for the first time, anyone could buy a 3D printer, have it in a house. That doesn’t mean that they can be compared to a much larger systems, because even though the concepts are same, the capabilities are completely different.
The speed has definitely improved, but what you need to look at most importantly is the speed of the process, over the traditional manufacturing process. So, in the past, whereby you had to make a mold, and then injection mold are parts, to make plastic prototypes or machine it, you’d had all that programming and development to do, before you could go into the production. With 3D printing, you can just go directly from your 3D design, to production, cutting out all the steps in the middle. So, whereas you’d have to wait 6-8 weeks, for complex molds, now you just start producing from day one.
It’s important to understand that 3D printing, as a manufacturing technology will never replace some traditional methods for mass production, because it’s just not cost-effective enough and it probably never will be. However, when you have low-volume productions, or bridge-to-link, let’s say before you get your permanent tool; it’s a very nice tool to have in your hands to beat your competitor to the market, because you can start producing from day one. Even if it’s at a slightly increased cost, but you’d still have the facility there to do that, if you’d want to. So, the market is called DDM (Direct Digital Manufacturing); it’s a growing market; more and more people are starting to understand its capabilities, forgetting the old days of just producing a prototype and now going directly into production with these systems. The printers we work with; a lot of our ND(?) goes into the materials, so developing specific materials for specific tasks, so we have examples of materials which are very(?) compatible, we have examples of materials which are aerospace certified, so they can go directly on aircraft and yeah, every couple of years you get 2 or 3 new materials aim that specific applications.
These type of solutions we sell are purely B2B, mainly because of the cost and the resources require to run a complete solution. B2C market is addressed quite well with the commercial printers, that we’ve mentioned before, so if someone wants to buy a printer for a $1 000, just to do some inventing – that’s fine, but we stick to what we know, we stick to where we know we can give benefit. So, that’s where we stand, we’re constantly enriching our portfolio with new products or better products, and we plan to keep doing that until one day we can say that we can do absolutely everything and then that’ll be the end of that.
The most important thing to look at, when talking about 3D is to look at the right technology for your application, because as we said there’s no such thing as a bad technology, but some are better at specific applications, so identify where your industry stands and what your clientele will be, and then look at the limitations of that technology. If you have those two factors, it would be very hard to fail.