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Custom Metal Fabrication: Application of 3D Printing

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Essentially, metal fabrication is the construction of metal structures via bending, cutting, and assembling. This value added process has grown over the years due to technology. Fabrication of Multifunctional parts requires design-using 3D. This is essential as you are not designing a single functional component such as thermal management, structural load, and control or sensing.  Therefore, traditional metal fabrication would not manage multifunctional parts; in comes 3D design. Here are some of the reasons why 3D model in manufacturing is essential.  

Weight reduction

In the case of aerospace technology, the main requirement in design is weight reduction. If the functions of the fabricated metal are fused into one component, the efficiency of the material increases; conversely, the weight goes down.

Reduced system complexity

When the manufacturer reduces the subsystems used, there is no longer need to integrate various subsystems through hosing, wiring or mechanical fasteners.

Increased reliability

The overall reliability of the system is normally enabled by the reliability of each subsystem. As such, reduction of the overall subsystem count leads to an increase in the overall reliability.

As such, this new metal 3D process of printing enables the use of multifunctional parts.

Ultrasonic additive manufacturing (UAM)

This form of 3-D metal printing enlists ultrasonic welding of metallic foils as well as counter milling. The ultrasonic vibrations are high frequency and are applied locally to metallic foil materials. They are then held together using pressures to create a solid weld. Contour milling is enlisted to create the shape required for every layer.

The layers are welded up together to ensure that there is a build up of height. The process is repeated continuously until the solid component is fully created. Since the process is solid state, the welder can weld dissimilar metals without having to form inter-metallic in the metal fabrication process.

Through UAM metal fabrication the manufacturer can create latticed, honeycombed, and hollow internal structures. Such structures were not possible using traditional metal fabrication services that used subtractive manufacturing processes. UAM process allows for subtractive and additive capabilities.

Printing multifunctional parts

UAM is utilized in the printing of multifunctional parts. The metal fabrication manufacturer can print multiple heat exchangers, which combine thermal management, structural loading, and advanced sensing all in one component.

UAM has many more capabilities in the ultra modern metal fabrication capabilities. However, the process shows that traditional metal fabrication would not have enabled the manufacturer of some of the components that UAM manages.