Additive manufacturing: advantages and future risks

The 3D printer has become a very well-known manufacturing tool. Industrial manufacturers are developing a new method: additive manufacturing for lighter and more complex pieces. Overview of this new process.

Since a few years, a new method of pieces manufacturing has proven to work in the field of technologies. Conventional techniques, a part from moulding, consist in removing material. Additive manufacturing is based on the contrary: a part is created by adding material, layer after layer or by the overlay of filaments. This process allows to put some material only where needed with a considerable weight increase.  All families of materials can be implemented: plastic, metal alloys, ceramics and even concrete used for building houses in laboratories.

The advantages of additive manufacturing

Still expensive, this process is mainly used in high-tech sectors, like aeronautics. It is a recent and fast growing technology and its limits are still not well known even if its qualities are undeniable. Additive manufacturing, which competes with casting for small series or prototypes, offers an optimization of weight that diminishes the consumption of raw materials. The other advantage lies in the capacity of manufacturing hollow items and complex forms.

Which are the risks?

Today, we have little hindsight on the problems that this new process arises, but there is no doubt that loss adjusters will soon have to handle specific data on additive manufacturing:

  • Problems related to materials because of new alloys in an unstopping development in order to optimize the results in terms of convenience of implementation, costs and mechanical resistance.
  • Manufacturing defect: cracks…
  • Risks generated by manufacturing machines able to involve a powerful laser, high electrical power, dust (explosions), toxic substances…

 

Laurent LLUCH
Technical Risks Loss Adjuster – Group GM Consultant