The 2015 edition of the METSTRADE show was opened for business on Tuesday 17 November with the traditional Breakfast Briefing at RAI Amsterdam. Hundreds of invited guests and media gathered to find out the winners of the DAME Design Award and to listen to keynote speaker Peter Sander, Manager Emerging Technologies & Concepts at AIRBUS Industries.
His talk on how 3D printing is set to revolutionise the marine equipment industry focused on the opportunities and challenges Additive Layer Manufacturing offers for the future of design and industrial production.
There is always a buzz in the air at the Breakfast Briefing as the entire RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre gears up for the largest B2B trade exhibition of its kind in the world. This year’s METSTRADE features a record number of almost 1,400 exhibitors and will welcome well over 20,000 marine equipment professionals from some 100 countries. The focus on innovation and sustainability at the show made the work of Peter Sander and his team at Airbus a highly appropriate way to start METSTRADE 2015.
Sander is leveraging on some 35 years of experience in the aviation industry to explore the world of 3D printing or - to use its more precise title - Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM). Due to the volume of ALM parts in the new Airbus A350 aircraft, Airbus has unrivalled know-how in this technology.
Sander began his speech by showing images of his own classic yacht from the 1960s which he has restored himself and has enjoyed sailing for the past 20 years. Moving swiftly from past through present to the future, he explained how 3D printing has experienced remarkable growth over the past three years.
“3D printing is set to change a great many business models and everyone needs to speed up their research into this technology,” he said, citing examples such as the bionic bridge being built in Amsterdam by robots, gold pens in the United Kingdom and even the James Bond car in the latest movie.
“The fact that the FAA is now certifying engine parts made with 3D printing proves beyond doubt that authorities recognise ALM as a solid technology for the future. It offers weight savings of between 30 to 35%, a reduction in tooling costs of as high as 90%, much faster production times and a far greater degree of creative freedom.”
The revolution is underway
Sanders made clear that the industrial 3D printing revolution has well and truly started and you could almost hear the audience’s brains ticking over as he used illustrations from the yachting world to make the point. These included a 3D printed cleat that had been fitted on his boat which weighed only 260 grams instead of the normal 1.6 kilograms.
“Major boat building areas that can already benefit from ALM technology include hydraulics, cooling units, plastic functional parts, and large sections that are 50% less complex to create in aluminium. There is also a direct impact on the way new products are developed. Instead of having to have the entire design parameters ready before going into production, you can make a 3D version in 48 hours, see how the design works in practice and then make a new one based on those experiences.”
Innovation is key
Sander concluded his speech by looking at how to practically move forward. “The key is innovation - finding the right ideas and disruptive idea owners,” he said. “General Electric recently asked the world at large for ideas on how to design a particular part and received no less than 700 responses from 65 different countries. The winning design came from Indonesia and resulted in a weight reduction of some 84%. This is a total game changer when it comes to sourcing innovation and making the most of the massive potential of 3D printing.”