ManSYS – building a platform for 3D printing

European Commission (EC) supported project ‘Manufacturing decision and supply chain management system for additive manufacturing’ (ManSYS) , is an initiative of 12 partners aiming to contribute to the acceptance of 3D printing as a trustworthy and economically viable manufacturing technology. Here’s how the project, with LPW’s involvement in the validation of recycling powder, aims to develop an online platform for the design and procurement of 3D printed parts and products.

3D printing is regarded as the cornerstone technology of the 3rd industrial revolution. It allows you to create three dimensional solid objects from a digital model, by adding successive layers of material or by hardening powders or fluids.

The ManSYS project focuses on developing a complete decision making system and robust supply chain management system for metal additive manufacturing, enabling production and delivery of quality assured, highly customised products and services.

3D printing (Additive Manufacturing)

3D printing – or Additive Manufacturing how it is referred to officially – covers a multitude of production technologies. Well known 3D printing technologies are stereo lithography (SLA), Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Fused deposition Modeling (FDM). All of these technologies work along the same principle of adding or hardening material ‘layer upon layer’. Traditional manufacturing technologies, like milling, subtract material to create a desired model. The excess material is turned into waste. With additive manufacturing technologies, only the material required is used, bringing the amount of waste down to practically zero. But there are other benefits of 3D printing, like:

  • Complex parts can be designed and produced without assembly;
  • New geometries can be produced, that traditional methods cannot produce;
  • Prototypes can quickly be produced;
  • Individualisation is possible at low costs;
  • Small series of unique or redesigned parts become an economically viable option.

Goals of the ManSYS project

Three key elements will be developed in the ManSYS project:

  • Decision support software supporting end users to decide whether 3D printing is applicable in their specific situation;
  • Supply Chain Management system that allows for ‘easy’ adoption and management of 3D printing in the production process;
  • Support network to (re-)design better or new products realising user oriented high value added solutions.

To demonstrate the benefits of ManSYS, essential parts from Smith & Nephew and Wisildent, GE Aviation will be produced via the platform.

To ensure that the quality of the products complies with market and customer requirements, much attention will be given to the development of the quality assurance and quality control processes. Also, the software to integrate various supply chain and business management systems will be developed.

Via a technical workshop, future platform members will be trained to use the platform and trust will be created in the high quality output it delivers.

The ManSYS Consortium

Twelve companies have teamed up to develop and test the platform. They bring ample experience in high quality manufacturing of complex parts, software development, material and process quality control and business modelling. Together they cover the entire supply chain.