Additive manufacturing is becoming more prominent in the manufacturing industry, with companies of all sizes investing in this technology. However, not all companies understand best practices when it comes to 3D printing and designing for additive manufacturing.
That’s where a company like ABCorp comes in. ABCorp is a high security contract manufacturing company that has been in business for over 200 years. They launched their additive manufacturing division a few years ago at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We got into 3D printing by creating face shields for local hospitals here in New England at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic,” explains Neil Glazebrook, Vice President of 3D Solutions at ABCorp. “We immediately saw the benefits of the technology and, with our background as a bespoke manufacturer of goods, I knew this could be a successful vertical for the business.”
When expanding into additive manufacturing, there’s one thing Glazebrook focused on: quality. That led him to acquire HP MJF system 3D printers and a Desktop Metal Binder jet 3D printer, in addition to finishing equipment.
“We have a lot of automated pieces; we’re big on efficiency and consistency in finish. Consistency across the board helps us scale finished goods production,” Glazebrook adds.
Scaling Additive Manufacturing
ABCorp is a manufacturing on-demand company that works with orders of varying sizes. According to Glazebrook, their 3D printing department can quickly turn orders to meet customer’s needs, whether the order is for five pieces or 50,000 pieces.
“In terms of scalability, it’s very easy for us to work with one customer who needs 5,000 pieces and another customer that only needs six, and they’re each oriented to their own specs. Everything produced is in the same build, same quality, same process,” Glazebrook explains. “Scaling is very easy with the technology we have and we’re continuing to rapidly grow.”
Digital technologies such as CAD software and scanning systems also help to scale operations. Scanning parts to create a digital file enables manufacturers to quickly launch a production run of 3D printed parts. This digitization also removes some of the physical aspects of production; with 3D printing, there’s no parts inventory — everything is secured on a server.
According to Glazebrook, these technologies help to control production; they can expand when needed and hold when there’s less demand.
“We make our production scalable, and we can do that because of the technology that we have,” Glazebrook explains. “Our 3D printers are always running, so we can accommodate new customers and orders seamlessly.”
Designing for Additive Manufacturing
To get the most out of additive manufacturing technologies, manufacturers must know how to design for additive. 3D printers can manufacture parts with shapes and geometries that can’t be achieved with traditional manufacturing methods. Knowing how to effectively design for additive manufacturing helps manufacturers save time and money and can improve the performance of a part.
One example is lightweighting. Well-designed 3D printed parts for drones, airplanes, and automobiles can reduce weight, which is an important consideration for all of these products. The different shapes that can be 3D printed also help to make better medical devices, such as improved tools for surgery.
Another critical benefit is that designing for additive helps to optimize costs. 3D printed parts can have completely different designs compared to their machined counterparts. When manufacturing a part with traditional CNC machining practices, there’s often a lot of leftover material for which the manufacturer is still paying. With 3D printing, manufacturers can simply print a part to exact specifications and then add a lattice design to the outside of the part.
“If you don’t care about the outside because the part is just fitting into something, then designing for additive can reduce the weight by up to 70%,” Glazebrook says. “That’s less material, less cleaning, and less price, so designing for additive not only helps structurally by reducing weight, but it also helps reduce cost.”
ABCorp’s 3D printing division utilizes the company’s expertise to effectively design for additive, ensuring they can create a cost-effective, high quality 3D printed product for their customers.
To learn more, you can visit the ABCorp 3D printing website or reach out to their team directly. If you’re interested in getting a first-hand look at 3D printers and other industrial technologies, check out our Manufacturing Technology event series.
Neil Glazebrook, VP of 3D Solutions at ABCorp
ABCorp is a secure on-demand manufacturer of 3D printing parts from low to high-volume production using the HP MJF solutions and automated robotics and inspection technology. With over 26 years in manufacturing, Neil has previously worked as a director of Sales and Operations, Mold & Coating Manager, Capital Additive Sales, HP Product Manager, and CNC Programmer in the job shops and injection molding industry. Neil holds a BS in Business and Law from Curry College of Milton, MA, and he currently resides in central Massachusetts. His goal is to bring manufacturing closer to ABCorp’s customers with enterprise-scale manufacturing on-demand using the latest technology in 3D printing, robotics, and inspection.