Carlström Ralf, General Manager of Digital Metal® at Höganäs AB has spent over three decades in the organization and is now responsible for the company’s 3D metal printing business. Ralf has a Masters in Metallurgy from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.
Digital Metal® is a 3D metal printing technology for complex objects that would be costly, if not impossible to produce, using traditional methods. Höganäs AB is the world’s leading manufacturer of metal powders.
Q) While we have seen some instances of companies using Additive Manufacturing for serial production, it is still mainly being used for rapid prototyping. What needs to change before we see a significant shift in the adoption of Additive Manufacturing for commercial production?
A) Productivity need to increase in order to move from prototyping or small series production to large scale or mass production. Currently additive manufacturing is a slow manufacturing method as parts are build layer by layer with very thin layers. Furthermore, there is still a substantial need for training of designers and engineers to better understand possibilities with additive manufacturing. Lack of relevant global standards delays and sometimes inhibits adaptation of this new technology.
Q) Do you think Moore’s law (which states that computing power will double every two years) applies to the part production time in 3D printing?
A) Production time or productivity will definitely increase going forward. Dominating existing technologies like Selective Laser Melting add more lasers and/or increase the laser power to speed up the build process. More and more focus is directed to alternative methods like Binder Jetting as a solution for increased productivity.
Q) What kind of parts are best suited for 3D printing at commercial scale?
A) In general parts need to have a complicated shape in order to be suitable for additive manufacturing. Otherwise existing technologies like casting or CNC machining will be hard to beat. The first commercial parts in production can be found in Aerospace, Medical/Dental Implants and tooling, all with relatively small annual volumes.
Q) How large is Asia as a market for industrial 3D printing and what will be the main drivers of growth?
A) Close to 30% of all industrial machines for additive manufacturing are installed in Asia according to Wohler’s report. The main growth drivers in Asia will be the same as in Europe and Americas; easy to get started as no tooling is required, short time to market, 3D design capability
Q) There have been recent discussions around MIM-like Additive Manufacturing processes. Do you see additive manufacturing taking away some of the market share from traditional MIM?
A) Digital Metal binder jetting technology is currently used for about 20 different geometries in serial production. These parts are used for Industrial, Medical and Dental, Design and Automotive applications, some with annual volumes up to 40,000/y. Most of them have not been produced before and are specially designed for additive manufacturing and could not be made by MIM. Therefore, Digital Metal binder jetting technology should be seen as a complement to MIM for prototyping, small series and full 3D design capability.
The Asian Powder Metallurgy Association’s 5th International Conference on Powder Metallurgy in Asia- APMA 2019 is happening at the JW Marriott Hotel Pune, India from Feb 19- 21, 2019. To register, visit www.apma2019.com