Materialise Manufacturing
3D printing facility

Design Insights: What’s Next for 3D Printing? Energy Value for Pneumatics; Happily Back to the Grind

May 27, 2021
A review of the day’s top trending stories from Machine Design editors.

What’s Next for 3D Printing?

The pandemic created an acceleration in the use of technology, and 3D printing was one of the areas that saw growth over the past year. But as Jurgen Laudus,  vice president of Materialise Manufacturing noted in a recent Machine Design commentary, 3D printing really just scratched the surface of its application in manufacturing—and that may be the biggest benefit of all for the technology.

Time constraints due to immediate demand during the height of the pandemic did not allow engineers to fully consider and design parts with specific additive benefits in mind,” Laudus writes. “ However, as we look to the future, these events have helped increase awareness of 3D printing’s benefits and have sparked interest in the technology. We now have an excellent opportunity to expand 3D printing adoption and showcase the value it can bring to manufacturers across industries.”

Energy Value for Pneumatics

In a wide-ranging interview with Machine Design Senior Editor Rehana Begg, Rich McDonnell, product manager, Smart and IoT Digital Products, Parker Hannifin, said there will be changes in the way pneumatic systems operate in response to a continuing emphasis on energy management and a greater availability of sensors in pneumatic systems.

“Flow control and proportional control is going to be a key element of energy conservation. Traditionally in pneumatics you would save energy—even before it was a buzzword—by dual pressure regulation in a circuit,” McDonnell said. “Dual pressure regulation was a regulator on a particular station of a manifold. So, you would have on your work function (inside of your actuator) higher pressure and then you’d retract that with a lower pressure. That saves energy because you’re using less energy that return.

“We’ll see a shift to more proportional flow control in functionality in the future. And because of that, those two technologies are going to become much more important, because now you can control that very discreetly and accurately via the embedded control,” he added. “Then, when machines are idle or you want them to sleep for a period of time, you’ll be able to bring that net pressure down to just very minimal operating set up parameters to save energy.”

Happily Back to the Grind

Even for the hardcore industry leaders who have worn through more than one pair of shoes traversing the convention centers around the world, the idea of returning to a live trade show floor is an exciting concept. One of the first live events will be D&M West, which will convene Aug. 10-12 in Anaheim.

From design and prototyping to 3D printing, materials, automation and machining, D&M West will bring together suppliers and buyers to discover new technology and rekindle old friendships. Perhaps it’s fitting that one of the show’s focus areas is 3D, after a year of video.

Join design and manufacturing engineers, directors and executives from thousands of companies walking the D&M West show floor, attending the conference and looking for inspiration.

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