In the following video, 3D printing specialist Steve Heller interviews Ryan Sybrant, global senior manager of manufacturing solutions at Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS), during EuroMold 2014, the world's largest 3D printing conference, held in Frankfurt, Germany, in November. During the segment, the pair discuss the benefits of using 3D printing in manufacturing settings, and Sybrant demonstrates these advantages by showcasing an end-of-arm tool for a manufacturing robot.
A full transcript follows the video.
Steve Heller: Let's talk a little bit about design. I know designing for manufacturing is a big challenge for a lot of manufacturers. They've got to work with tooling patterns, they have to work with where the tool goes and things like that. How does additive [3D printing] change that conversation?
Ryan Sybrant: It does change the rules a little bit. Back when I was designing components, we always had to, in the back of our mind, understand what technology or what machine we were going to manufacture the component on because of the constraints that came with that.
With additive [3D printing], you don't have as many of those constraints, so you can really focus on the design aspect of it or the performance or the function of what you're really trying to achieve [with a part], and not have to worry so much about how it's going to be produced.
Of course the application has to fit the requirements of what you want out of the technology, but you can really focus much more on that design with additive [3D printing].
Heller: Let's talk about some of these killer applications that additive has allowed and Stratasys has seen some success with. I see you've got this robotic arm here. Can you tell me a little bit more about what's going on here, what the purpose is, and why it's a fundamentally better product at this point?
Sybrant: Yes. This is actually a really good example here to look at. This is an end-of-arm tool for a robot, or an end effector, as some people might call it.
What this company did -- Genesis, they're a manufacturer of large-scale robotics that go into different operations, such as welding and maybe some assembly or cutting operations -- they approached us saying, "We'd really like to find a way to customize our tooling a little bit" because they have, let's call it "mass customization" because each project is unique from another, and they wanted to find a way to be more cost-effective at it, lighter-weight, and more efficient.
After working with them for a couple months and having them change their mind-set about how to design for additive [3D printing], they were able to come up with this design here, which really cut down on the amount of material being used, because they used to [CNC] machine these out.
Another advantage was they have vacuum channels on the inside here, that were able to be integrated inside of the thermoplastic because of our support removal system on there. Now they have less hoses that were required, and that can eliminate any potential snagging of hoses.
Now with the integrated channels, the operation on this one is to hold a complex carbon-fiber component, and the robot will do it in many different axes or directions, into a water-jetting [cutting] operation.
It's simply holding this part to cut it and put the part back. It might pick up another part that has a different geometry and requires a different tool, so it's kind of a pick-and-place of the tool at that point, so now they're quickly responding to the tools that they need as well.
Heller: Yes, there's a modular component to it, or it evolving to the next generation of manufacturing on their floor.
Sybrant: Yes, absolutely.