Manufacturing is an industry that can be seen in every country throughout the world. The truth is we as humans need things and it is the manufacturing sector that has been instrumental in bringing to light everyday items and specialty items humans require on a daily basis. If you go to your pantry and take a look at the food within, you will notice a variety of packaging and food items within that packaging. However, manufacturing is not merely limited to food items, but vehicles, technologies, and practically everything we humans use throughout our daily lives.
Traditional manufacturing has become remarkably expensive with the need to upkeep buildings, equipment, and maintain a trained staff that can run the facility effectively. Costs are always on the rise and that is why many manufacturers are looking for ways to cut cost with the adoption of high tech machines such as 3D Printers. Automation is the key in finding a healthy balance between manufacturing costs and what the consumer is willing to pay. Within the realm of 3D Printers and all they can do for us, manufacturers are embracing wire and arc additive manufacturing to help cut costs and automate factories.
What is Wire and Arc Additive Manufacturing?
Wire and Arc Additive Manufacturing (or WAAM) as it is more commonly referred to is essentially welding. Since the 1920’s welding has been an important part of the manufacturing industry and is what makes much of the products we see today possible. Traditional welding is when a piece of filament is heated by a torch to bring two pieces of metal together. Basically, the process is like super glue for the manufacturing industry. Wire and Arc Additive Manufacturing has evolved over the years. This form of manufacturing was traditionally accomplished by a human at the helm of the welder, but thanks to automation and 3D Printing, wire and arc additive manufacturing has moved out of the realm of human interaction.
Much More Than Welding
The traditional form of wire and arc additive manufacturing involved the bringing together of two pieces of metal. However, things have vastly changed in WAAM industries. It was found that when traditional WAAM and 3D Printers were brought together, the marriage produced amazing results. The layering action of 3D Printers combined with WAAM proved to provide substantially more options for manufacturers. They could now utilise the pinpoint accuracy and complex geometry of 3D Printers with the high strength of wire and arc additive manufacturing.
What Industries Use Wire and Arc Additive Manufacturing?
WAAM, or wire and arc additive manufacturing, has been drastically improved by the adaptation to the 3D Printing industry. It is this marriage that has allowed 3D Printers to be employed by many different industries throughout the world. What is so attractive about 3D Printers to many manufacturers is its overall cost effective nature. Instead of employing people to maintain and run each machine, costs can be cut through automation. The people who once ran the machines are able to be retrained to offer support and essentially manage the running of multiple 3D Printers at once.
One of the largest implications of wire and arc additive manufacturing and 3D Printers can be found in the auto industries. In the early 1900s, the invention of the assembly line forever changed the auto industry offering the ability to manufacture an entire vehicle as it moved across a conveyor belt, while workers welded and added pieces to the vehicle. Today, this format is still in place, but more of the modern vehicle manufacturers, people have been replaced with 3D Printers and CNC machines. Where this might seem like a negative for some, it actually works to make manufacturing vehicles cheaper and ensures that no human is harmed in the making of any vehicle.
Space is a goal that few have ever reached and countries the world over are racing to try and get as deep into space as possible. However, traveling to the moon, or even mars, is not as easy as getting into the car and driving down the road. It takes careful planning and managing the craft to ensure those heading out on these missions remain safe. The aerospace industry has thankfully learned from its past and now employs machines such as 3D Printers and the use of WAAM to ensure the safety of everyone. WAAM can be deployed into areas where it might be dangerous for humans to venture to repair a problem or even completely build equipment necessary to complete the mission.
The two above industries are just a few examples of how 3D Printers and WAAM are being used to make the manufacturing industry better all around. Soon, we will see a time when WAAM impacts virtually all manufacturing industries as it is cost effective and highly adaptive to a variety of needs.