May 9, 2017 | By Tess

General Motors and non-profit SME have partnered with the Florida Institute of Technology to develop an online evaluation system that will enable manufacturers and businesses to determine where and how they should adopt 3D printing technologies. The aim of the joint project is to help manufacturers integrate additive manufacturing into their production in an optimized and efficient way.

While 3D printing is touted as a manufacturing technology suited to a wide range of applications, businesses who are seeking to benefit from it do not always have to means to determine how their manufacturing would actually be optimized with 3D printing. In other words, companies don’t always know what parts are better suited for additive manufacturing or another type of manufacturing. This reality, as one can imagine, can result in lots of trial and error for part production, which costs businesses valuable time and money.

The collaboration between General Motors, SME, and the Florida Institute of Technology, which has taken up the name Independent Technical Evaluation of Additive Manufacturing (ITEAM), will be aimed at giving manufacturers an “expert system” that is capable of comparing and determining the best machine, material, and process for a given part and application.

"One of the keys to determining whether 3D printing is a game changer will be the ability to totally redesign a part, or merge an assembly of parts and make the additive part a reality in production," explained Susan Smyth, GM chief scientist for manufacturing and 2017 SME Board of Directors secretary. "The challenge from the automotive community is the need for hardware, material innovation and availability of design tools to reinvent parts and morph assemblies for applications above and beyond prototype.”

The web-based evaluation platform will also include an additive manufacturing community section, through which users can easily share feedback, comments, and their experiences with various 3D printing equipment and materials, as well as develop specialized apps. ITEAM will also offer a “virtual repository of additive manufacturing machine and material capabilities,” as well as evaluation tools that will allow users to check whether their parts are suited for 3D printing.

The online system will also reportedly serve as a center for additive manufacturing research, methodology, and qualification, and will invite its users to participate and share in the initiative. One way this will manifest will be through allowing interested users to test and give feedback on beta versions of the platform.

"The information about additive machines and material capabilities that users need to make quality decisions is fragmented and expensive," commented Michael Grieves, PhD, executive director, Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovative Design at the Florida Institute of Technology. "This new future requires accurate, reliable and current information so users can make the best technical and economic decisions as to additive equipment and materials. SME is stepping up to the challenge of providing this capability with ITEAM."

The ITEAM system methodology, called SAM-CT (size, accuracy, materials + economic evaluation of cost and throughput), is currently in development.



Posted in 3D Software



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