11 September 2018

3D printing on an industrial scale

3D printing is about to radically change the manufacturing industry. The range of materials available for use in additive manufacturing machines is constantly growing. This diversity is inspiring industrialists and paving the way for a new way of thinking about production. As a fully-qualified general engineer, Floriane is working on one of these new manufacturing processes inspired by 3D printing.

For my first project as a consultant for agap2, for the past two months, I’ve been working for Resmed, a firm specialised in medical devices. Its site in Saint-Priest manufactures orthoses, a dental appliance that helps to treat the symptoms caused by Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and snoring in adults.

3D printing is rarely used at industrial level

These orthoses are manufactured using a laser sintering machine, on the same principle as a 3D printer. This machine is used to create 3D objects, one layer at a time, using powders that are sintered or fused thanks to a high-power laser. This manufacturing process, which is similar to that of a 3D printer, is highly innovative, as very few companies include it in their manufacturing chain at industrial level.

Working with a 3D printer is really interesting, all the more so when you consider that this process can only evolve thanks to the wide range of materials that could be used in the future. My work consists in finding solutions to better control this new manufacturing process and anticipate possible machine failures. The possibilities provided by this project are huge. The simplest as well as the most innovative solutions are indeed being considered and studied.

The first stage of the project was to analyse the current process and highlight areas for improvement. We then had to prioritise our solutions according to how much they contribute to the stability of the process or quality of the product, and the necessary investment. The next stage of the project will be to define a test protocol to conduct trials and validate the control method. The aim is to ensure that this control method is sustainable over time for the production team.

Floriane L.
Validation & Qualification Engineer