Many countries in the world have cultivated 3D printing as a new growth point for future industrial development. As early as 2012, the United States identified “Additive Manufacturing Technology” as the first manufacturing innovation center (later renamed “Made in the United States”). The European Union, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Russia and other countries also adopted various measures to promote 3D printing. The industry moves forward.
Since the rise of 3D printing, my country has successively promulgated a number of policies to support the development of the 3D printing industry. With the support of policies, 3D printing companies have sprung up like mushrooms after a rain, and are growing rapidly. The development of the 3D printing industry in Beijing, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Shaanxi and other places has also made significant progress. According to statistics, there are more than 400 companies engaged in 3D printing business in Guangdong Province alone, with multiple 3D printing industrial parks.
With the rapid development of 3D printing, whether traditional subtractive manufacturing methods such as CNC machine tools will be replaced has also become a hot topic of discussion among people from all walks of life. In recent years, the technology of CNC machine tools in my country has been improving day by day, and 3D printing has found their own scenes. Generally speaking, CNC machine tools need to program in advance and continuously cut to realize the forming of objects. The working principle of a 3D printer is similar to that of a CNC machine tool, and it also works according to computer instructions. The difference is that it builds products by stacking layers of raw materials. So 3D printing is also called “additive manufacturing.”
The significant difference between 3D printing and traditional manufacturing lies in the process of product molding. In the traditional manufacturing industry, the entire manufacturing process generally needs to be formed through such processes as mold opening, cutting, casting or forging, and component assembly. 3D printing eliminates complicated processes, no molds, and one-time molding. Therefore, 3D printing can overcome some designs that cannot be achieved in traditional manufacturing and produce more complex structures.
On the other hand, CNC machine tools are a type of computer numerical control (CNC), which can process complex, precise, and various parts. Generally speaking, CNC machine tools use computer-designated programs to remove excess materials through cutting, milling and other steps to reach the final product, which is a typical subtractive manufacturing.
On the one hand, traditional manufacturing is characterized by “global procurement, division of labor and collaboration”. Different parts of a product are often produced in different places and then shipped to the same place for assembly. And 3D printing is “integral manufacturing, one-time molding”, which eliminates the logistics link and saves cost and time.
On the other hand, the traditional manufacturing industry takes production lines as the core, factories as the main carrier, and highly concentrated production equipment. And 3D printing embodies the integration of a new generation of information technology and manufacturing represented by cloud computing, big data, Internet of Things, and mobile Internet.
As a major product of the development of traditional manufacturing, machine tools are very different from the new generation of 3D printing manufacturing methods. The machine tool is the mother machine of the manufacturing industry. If 3D printing technology can be integrated into the machine tool field, it will undoubtedly be even more powerful. The combination of the two not only improves production efficiency, but also completes many manufacturing problems. The special machine tool in the machine tool can be customized with functions according to customer requirements, but the functions are not powerful enough and rich, and may not be designed and manufactured as one wishes. However, with the introduction of 3D printing, the popularity and application of machine tool products may be greatly improved.
It is understood that 3D printing technology has already been applied in my country’s industrial parts manufacturing, but it has not yet entered large-scale industrial applications. Its technology and equipment, as well as applications in medical, aerospace and other fields need to be further developed. Judging from the current situation, 3D printing technology does not have the conditions to replace traditional manufacturing. In terms of mass manufacturing, the high-efficiency and low-cost traditional subtractive manufacturing method embodied by machine tool manufacturing is even better.
Of course, with the emphasis on metal additive manufacturing, more and more equipment manufacturers in the field of traditional machine tool manufacturing have entered the field of additive manufacturing. Some have launched hybrid additive manufacturing equipment based on CNC machining centers, and some simply Directly enter the new field of additive manufacturing. For example, Japanese Mazak. Mazak launched the Integrex i-400am (additive manufacturing) compound processing equipment. Integrex i-400am is a complete set of equipment, which is more suitable for processing materials for small batch production, such as the processing of heat-resistant alloys for aerospace parts, and the processing of high-hardness materials for parts.
The long-term coexistence of subtractive manufacturing and growth manufacturing methods is a trend that can be met. However, in the future, this situation may change. In any case, the way to achieve refined, automated, and efficient manufacturing of products will be expected to be diversified.