Saturday, September 25, 2021

What Does Advanced Manufacturing Mean to You?

 It has been almost a year since I have found it worthwhile to publish something new. That is because a good portion of money is being concentrated on a topic known as Advanced Manufacturing. The obtuseness of this title leaves people scratching their head because it is so vague. Actually because of this many variations have developed that are designed to serve a particular market. This market started with plastic irregular objects and now advancing in many directions. In other words, something for everyone. Just change a few things to make the process work. 

So how do we understand what we need to get started? Well first of all, we need to have a purpose in mind. Reduction of weight is a good thing because our present transportation system uses a fuel that contaminates the atmosphere.Therefore, if we can reduce the weight of the vehicle; we use less  fuel and contamination is reduced.The second objective is to make either things that cannot be made by other processes or to develop the advanced manufacturing process to make parts cheaper than are made by an existing process. The automotive and the space industry are two areas that are either fast changing or developing that are being driven by these two objectives.

So, how do we develop this new process? First we need a container that houses the object or objects to be made. this is normally a box of any size , to contain and build the smallest to the largest of parts. One area where the process is growing is for small items, such as dental products or for parts  for medical purposes, that fit in small, confined spaces.On the opposite side of the spectrum, containers or  boxes are being constructed to produce components for space ships and for turbine engines. Boggles the imagination. 

The next thing required is material to construct or build the irregular shaped part.Again, the process began by using plastic in powder or liquid form to spray on a platform that can  move incrementally to permit thin layers of sprayed droplets to deposit and solidify layer by layer in a pattern that is generated from a three dimensional model, using a computer. Metallic inks for circuit boards are now being made using this technology. Plastic parts are currently being made in many differing processes. Powders now are available for making many small parts today and could be used to make parts for off road equipment soon.What is left to complete the system is a heating source. Today, lasers and electron beam guns are used for this process, although there are processes that use induction heating to repair or to make parts. 

Every day new developments are made that provides new avenues for the advancement of the technology. In addition, a process called modeling is now being more widely used in the design of complete systems made of different kinds of component parts, using basic principles of physics and chemistry. This will make possible new motor designs and artificial organs for humans and animals. The technology is mind boggling, and prepares the way for a new century becoming more and more electronically oriented.