Following the Digital Thread: Fabricating Within the Digital Thread

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We have finally arrived at the place where the digital becomes physical: the 3-D printing of the part.

We’re making great progress with our new bell crank. So far, we have seen it designed, analyzed, and optimized as it progresses along the digital thread. Now it’s on to the build with the help of the team at America Makes — the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

We will watch the new bell crank being built using an additive manufacturing process called selective laser melting (SLM). But before we can do that, we need to do some preparation — adding “support structures” to the component so that it doesn’t deform during the building process.

This work is captured in the digital thread and preserved for future builds. It is also used to generate machine instructions for the printer to use when building the part.

One final enhancement to the build process will be the incorporation of “in situ” monitoring to collect data on the quality of the build for use during testing and validation to inform our Smart Inspection process. We’ll get to that in our next episode. But before we do, we need to do some post-processing!

What to watch next
Further Reading

M. Cotteleer, J. Holdowsky, and M. Mahto, “The 3D Opportunity Primer: The Basics of Additive Manufacturing,” Deloitte Insights, March 6, 2014, accessed Jan. 22, 2018.

M. Cotteleer, S. Trouton, and E. Dobner, “3D Opportunity and the Digital Thread: Additive Manufacturing Ties It All Together,” Deloitte Insights, March 3, 2016, accessed Jan. 9, 2018.

S.K. Everton, M. Hirsch, P. Stravroulakis, R. Leach, and A. Clare, “Review of In-Situ Process Monitoring and In-Situ Metrology for Metal Additive Manufacturing,” Materials & Design 95, no. 5 (April 2016), 431-445.

D. Mies, W. Marsden, and S. Warde, “Overview of Additive Manufacturing Informatics: ‘A Digital Thread’,” Integrating Materials and Manufacturing Innovation 5, no. 6 (December 2016).


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