Discussions about additive manufacturing and prototyping frequently center solely on speed. But what is often left out of the conversation is the ability to develop more mature products before launch, thanks to the multiple design iteration cycles made possible by a 3D printer, says Scott Welham, general manager of advanced development at GE Appliances.
Taking a part that was assembled from several components and reducing it to one 3D-printed part has obvious benefits like weight reduction. But there are also other value propositions that start from the beginning of the design phase and reach towards end-use safety and reliability.
Manufacturers, safety experts and international standards organizations will continue to focus attention on flammable refrigerants as the substitute for environmentally unfriendly compounds face steep reductions in the approaching years and decades.
Even the most tech-savvy consumer might suffer whiplash eyeing the competing smart home protocols and platforms. Want to dim the Philips smart lights and simultaneously cue a playlist through the Sonos home audio system?
Upcoming U.S. Department of Energy efficiency standards for commercial heating and cooling units are achievable, and reasonable, manufacturers say, though pending refrigerant restrictions from the Environmental Protection Agency could cause complications.
Today, most industrial 3-D printing is a closed shop—printers are tied to brand-specific polymers and proprietary software. That’s an obstacle to growth and antithetical to the rest of the manufacturing world, says Cosine Additive Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Andrew McCalip.
Thermoplastic elastomers are a popular material of choice due to their beneficial properties – soft touch, flexibility, recyclability, temperature resistance, and the ability to over-mold onto hard substrates, among other attributes. Often, thermoset rubbers or silicon are the incumbent material being replaced.