3D printing technology has been gaining more and more attention in recent years, especially in the construction and engineering industries.
In fact, here at ARC, we have been using 3D printing to redesign and modify parts for our different processes, such as robotic welding, for several years.
Keep reading to explore the benefits, uses, and how we’re leveraging 3D printing in our own processes.
Benefits of 3D Printing for the Construction and Engineering Industry
One of the greatest advantages we have found for 3D printing in our own work is for rapid prototyping.
In the past, we had to spend hours machining metal parts, only to find that they were too short or didn't have the right configuration for the specific application. With 3D printing, we can quickly design and print parts, test them out for the specific application, and make modifications if necessary. This saves us time and resources and allows us to move straight into production from there.
By using 3D printing technology, companies can design and print parts in a matter of hours instead of the days or weeks it would take using traditional manufacturing methods. This allows for faster testing and design modifications, which can ultimately save companies time and money.
Print with a Variety of Materials
Another benefit of 3D printing is the ability to print with a variety of materials, including plastics, metals, and even concrete. This allows for more flexibility in design and construction and can lead to more sustainable and cost-effective solutions.
Printing Complex Shapes
3D printing can also be used to print complex geometric shapes and designs that would be difficult or impossible to achieve using traditional methods.
Use Cases for 3D Printing in Power Generation
The use of 3D printing technology has revolutionized the way engineers and designers approach complex engineering challenges. The flexibility and versatility of 3D printing make it a valuable tool in prototyping and manufacturing parts. One industry where 3D printing has proven to be particularly useful is for construction and engineering companies working in power generation, specifically, nuclear power plants.
Designing Solutions for Nuclear Plants
One of our specific use cases here at ARC was for work we were doing in a nuclear power plant that included creating a water-like containment shield to contain water that is created during nuclear power generation.
To accomplish this, ARC Machining Manager, Jared Colón, described how he was able to design a curved 3D printed part that would attach to a large diameter piece of PVC. This part was then fitted with magnets, allowing it to perfectly follow the curvature of the pipe and snap into place. This solution demonstrates how 3D printing can be used to solve complex engineering challenges quickly and efficiently.
Advancements, Challenges, and Solutions in 3D Printing
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has come a long way since its inception. Today, we have access to a wide range of 3D printers that can produce anything from simple plastic parts to complex metal components. However, as with any technology, there are still challenges and obstacles to overcome.
The use of 3D printing has become more prevalent, and technology has become more accessible to individuals and companies. The technology has allowed engineers and designers to create solutions quickly and at a lower cost than traditional manufacturing methods. 3D printing has allowed engineers to create parts with greater accuracy, allowing for more precise and efficient solutions to complex engineering problems.
Challenges + Solutions
Need for supports: When printing complex parts, supports are necessary to prevent the material from collapsing during the printing process. However, once the part is complete, these supports are often wasted. To overcome this challenge, some printers now use a water-soluble material for supports that dissolve after the printing process is complete.
Need for accurate and specific processes: The more complex the part, the more difficult it is to print accurately. One solution to this challenge is the use of welding 3D printers that can produce accurate and specific parts.
Developments in the Future of 3D Printing
As for what is coming next, there are many exciting developments on the horizon. One development is the use of 3D printing to create large-scale parts, which could revolutionize the manufacturing industry. Additionally, the advancements in material science could lead to the creation of new and stronger materials, further expanding the capabilities of 3D printing.
The potential of 3D printing houses using concrete is one such example. This process involves the use of a large gantry that squirts out concrete layer by layer, creating a solid foundation for the house. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the construction and engineering industry.
A Promising Technology for Prototyping in the Construction and Engineering Industries
3D printing has come a long way from being a technology used only in prototyping to a technology capable of creating finished products. However, it is still a tool that requires careful consideration and control to achieve the desired results.
Despite these challenges, we believe 3D printing will continue to grow in popularity in our industry and are excited about the new and innovative ways we’ll be able to leverage it to better serve our customers.
About ARC Energy Services
ARC Energy Services helps keep power and industrial plants in peak operating condition by providing specialty welding, machining, heat treatment, and NDT services to plant owners, OEMs, maintenance, and general contractors. Our customers trust ARC to exceed their expectations for safety, quality, budget, and schedule with experienced supervision, quality craftsmanship, and engaged leadership.
Ready to learn more about how we can partner together? Reach out today!