SME members work in many industries. Members join the society for a number of reasons. I became a member of SME with the hope of learning from members or sharing ideas with members. So far, it has not been very helpful because I am looking for more technical discussions. Yes, I have met really nice and dedicated people. I would like to try this discussion about “Natural” processes in the Additive Manufacturing Technology industry with hopes of getting feedback about this concept.
Additive Manufacturing Technology (AM) refers to manufacturing products by building them with materials. This years RAPID+TCT show included companies from around the world that presented ways to form objects from materials. I attended the show to investigate the ways AM engineers were doing things. I was interested in the technologies that were closest to natural processes. A natural process is a Newtonian process. I was looking for an AM process that relied heavily on natural laws to make objects. Conventional manufacturing uses tools to cut and form objects from materials that were made from cut and formed materials. AM adds or builds layers of materials to form an object. I saw many AM processes that took cut materials and were forming them in layers. I would call this conventional manufacturing with miniature forms of material packed or heated together to form layers of material, one on top of another. These all seem so unnatural. I ask you all, are there ways to form objects naturally?
AM is less of a process and more of a philosophy. AM manufacturing is a design technique that is useful for making objects that cannot be internally cut or formed by machine tools. Designers must choose materials that can be adapted to the AM layered manufacturing process to build objects thats are impossible to machine. The AM philosophy required the invention of 3D materials that additively will combine to make objects. AM is all about 3D materials and designing. The materials must be three-dimensional or they will not combine in height. First came the 3D materials and then came the design software. The origins of AM may have originated when engineers first experienced 3D material depositions. UV cured materials are one 3D material but was it the first? UV cured materials needed lasers to improve designed objects. Inkjet printed 2D designs (1 layer) long before UV cured materials and wax as well as liquid alloy inks were 3D inkjet materials patented in the 1960's. Are layering 3D materials a natural process or a design philosophy?