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  • Writer's pictureRosa Tech

Additive Manufacturing in Robotics


Additive manufacturing refers to a class of processes that create objects by depositing materials layer by layer. This young technology, known as fast prototyping, first appeared in the late 1980s. Initially, it was used to create conceptual models to discuss design ideas, for structure and match implementations, or to generate architectural or anatomical models.

Types of 3D printing and materials

Additive manufacturing progressed from fast prototyping or rapid tooling to rapid manufacturing, allowing for the production of finished and fully functional robotic products. Various 3D printing technologies with various functions have been developed. According to ASTM Standard F2792, 3D printing technologies are classified into seven categories: binding jetting, directed energy deposition, material extrusion, material jetting, powder bed fusion, sheet lamination, and vat photopolymerization. There are no arguments about which machine or technology is superior because each has its own set of applications. 3D printing technologies are no longer limited to prototyping but are increasingly being used to create a wide range of products. 3D printing technology can create fully functional parts out of a variety of materials such as ceramic, metallic, polymers, and their combinations in the form of hybrid, composites, or functionally graded materials (FGMs).

Areas of active usage to 3D printing

  1. Aerospace Industry - 3D printing technology has the potential to produce lightweight parts with improved and complex geometries, reducing energy and resource requirements in the aerospace industry. It is also used in the production of spare parts for certain aerospace components, such as engines, which are easily damaged and must be replaced. Because of their tensile properties, oxidation/corrosion resistance, and damage tolerance, nickel-based alloys are preferred.

  2. Automotive Industry - 3D printing technology has revolutionized the automotive industry, allowing for lighter and more complex structures in a short period of time. Local Motor, Ford, BMW, AUDI, and SLM Solution Group AG have all used it to create prototypes, hand tools, spare and engine parts. 3D printing technology allows companies to experiment with different options and emphasize them early in the development process, resulting in ideal and effective automotive design. It has the potential to reduce material waste and consumption, as well as reduce costs and time, allowing for rapid testing of new designs.

  3. Healthcare and medical industry - 3D printing technology can be used to print 3D skin, drug and pharmaceutical research, bone and cartilage, replacement tissues, organs, cancer research printing, and models for visualization, education, and communication. There are numerous benefits to using 3D printing technology for biomedical products.

  4. Architecture, building, and construction industry - In the construction industry, 3D printing technology can be used to print entire buildings or to create construction components. Building Information Modelling (BIM) will enable better use of 3D printing technology. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a digital representation of functional and physical characteristics that can be used to share information and knowledge about 3D buildings. It can serve as a reliable source of decision-making throughout the building's life cycle, enabling more efficient methods of designing, creating, and maintaining the built environment.

And many more;

It is achievable to create an object of virtually any shape using additive manufacturing without the use of tooling. Complex objects can be manufactured in a single process step, eliminating production steps and shortening time to market while increasing production costs marginally. Furthermore, additive manufacturing disrupts the traditional supply chain by allowing products to be manufactured closer to the point of use at the time of need, reducing material waste and improving economies of scale and lead time.

It also dramatically reduces the time between design creation and prototyping by reducing the effort and the scheduled impact caused by iterative design and by increasing organizational alignment to accelerate decision-making. Additive manufacturing has been used successfully in a variety of industries, including robotics. Despite recent developments indicating an increased use of AM systems for large-scale structure fabrication, the majority of commercially available AM machines are three-axis Cartesian coordinate robots or gantry systems with limited construction platform dimensions. Support structures may be required depending on the shape and dimensions of the object, which increases fabrication time, material consumption, and fabrication costs. Moreover, the three-axis additive manufacturing machines are associated with a strict layer-by-layer fabrication approach creating objects with a typical stair-step effect.

Pros of the 3D printing technology or additive manufacturing:

  1. Flexible Design

  2. Rapid Prototyping

  3. Print on Demand

  4. Strong and Lightweight parts

  5. Fast design & Production

  6. Minimizing Waste

  7. Cost Effective

  8. Ease of Access

  9. Environmentally Friendly

  10. Advanced Healthcare

Cons of the 3D printing technology or additive manufacturing:

  1. Limited Materials

  2. Restrict Build Size

  3. Post Processing

  4. Large Volumes

  5. Part Structure

  6. Reduction in Manufacturing jobs

  7. Design Inaccuracies

Future of Additive Manufacturing

According to our survey, 87% of businesses expect their use of 3D printing to more than double, and nearly 40% expect it to increase fivefold or more. Companies will be able to reduce batch sizes, achieve faster NPI and development, and, eventually, use additive manufacturing as a full serial production tool where the cost curves intersect. At Rosa Tech, we use 3D printing technology for rapid prototyping of complex mechanical systems. It enables us to reach specific target customers with a precise solution. This technology can be further used for large scale manufacturing of complex parts. We're laying the groundwork for distributed manufacturing to deliver more innovative products, better user experiences, and better patient outcomes. It doesn't take a crystal ball to see that 3D printing has a bright future. Without a doubt, the development of new materials that are versatile enough to be used with additive manufacturing in engineering will unlock the future of additive manufacturing in engineering. Similarly, researchers and engineers are working to create new additive manufacturing systems that can work with a wider range of materials. Despite having some challenges, the use of AM in robotics is growing rapidly and has the potential to transform the field of robotics in the coming years. The global 3D printing market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 23.3% from 2023 to 2030 to reach USD 88.28 billion by 2030.

The future of additive manufacturing (AM) is promising, with advancements being made in various fields. The technology will likely be adopted by more industries, such as automotive, aerospace, healthcare, and consumer goods. Advancements in materials science will allow for the creation of stronger, more durable, and higher temperature-resistant materials. Customization and personalization of products will continue to increase, with each product tailored to the specific needs of the customer. AM can be integrated with other technologies like AI, robotics, and IoT, to create more efficient manufacturing systems. Additionally, AM has the potential to be more sustainable than traditional manufacturing methods, generating less waste and using fewer resources. Overall, the future of AM looks promising, with continued advancements in technology, materials, and a greater focus on sustainability.

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