Additive Manufacturing (popularly known as 3D printing) is the technology that builds objects layer by layer from a digital model. That is the opposite of conventional Subtractive Manufacturing, where the raw material in the form of blocks is machined and processed to achieve the final shape, after wasting significant amount of material. In AM, raw material in the form of powder or filaments, is added layer by layer as per the shape of the component with minimal wastage.
A typical AM process consists of the following steps:
Technologies Used in Additive Manufacturing:
AM Applications in Valves
Future Opportunities at L&T Valves
Additive Manufacturing is in the process of transitioning to a mature technology with myriad applications in manufacturing and aftermarket.
API has initiated work on API 20S ‘Qualification of Additively Manufactured Metallic Materials for Use in the Petroleum and Natural Gas Industries’. This standard will be a significant gamechanger in making AM mainstream in the Oil & Gas industry.
There is also a lot of concern about the protection of product patents and copyrights. The wide availability of desktop 3D printers will make it possible to produce the designs anywhere in the world, making it for difficult for companies to safeguard their intellectual property right. This is an interesting debate and attorneys are working hard to safeguard their clients against such infringements.
The technology and the industry are evolving rapidly, and the future looks very exciting.