My cousin is an orthopedic surgeon, and when I recently got a chance to catch up with him over holidays, he told me of his recent jaunt to Mahwah, New Jersey – the Jewel of America – as part of a research trip to Stryker Corporation’s campus to find out more about the latest joint replacement systems.
Aside from embarking upon the classic hijinks that I’ve come to expect from him – such as moonlighting as “Federico” and “Bharat” and Heisenberging it up (see below; identities protected in case their Heisenberging got too real) – he also took in enough on the educational front to describe the manufacturing facility as it churned out titanium-based parts that become part of new hips, knees, and shoulders.
All of this is to say that Stryker Corp. is indeed making use of 3D printing as well – the phenomenon that’s taken plastics prototyping by storm, but is continuing its creep into industrial metals parts in a very real way. MetalMiner is no stranger to covering this phenomenon, and when we stumbled on a slideshow in Industry Week, spotlighting the movers and shakers in supplying the technology to make these parts possible, we thought we’d bust out the highlights:
- EOS is a hoss in this space, not only as an early leader in the technology, but in the number of industries the company serves, including medical, automotive and die casting. Their DMLS technology process “builds solid metal parts by melting layers of powered metal – ranging from aluminum and nickel to titanium and stainless steel – with a high powered, focused laser.” Two of the fastest-growing markets for EOS’s laser-sintering solutions are medical (including dental) and aerospace due to developments of such materials as EOS Ti64, Ti64 ELI, StainlessSteel PH1, PEEK HP3, Aluminum ALSi10Mg and NickelAlloy IN718 and IN625.
- 3D Systems, which acquired Phenix Systems recently, is now “capable of growing parts in stainless steel, tooling steels, non-ferrous alloys, super alloys, precious metals and even ceramics.”
- Renishaw probably wins for Coolest 3D-Printed Product, if only because it’s so accessible – a bike. However, they’ve also penetrated aerospace and medical sectors with their “high-precision metrology and motion control products.”
As Travis Hessman mentions in Industry Week, GE Aviation is undertaking a big, high-volume project by printing 35,000 fuel injectors for the LEAP jet engine per year by 2020 – will more OEMs follow suit?
Let us know if your company is using or considering 3D printing for its metal-part manufacturing – leave a comment below!