Part 6: Fabricating within the digital thread Following the digital thread

We have finally arrived at the place where the digital becomes physical—the 3D printing of the part.


We're making great progress with our new bell crank. So far we have seen it designed, analyzed, and optimized as it progresses through the manufacturing process with the help of the digital thread. Now it’s on to the build with the help of the team at America Makes – the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

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Watch the previous episode:

Episode 5: A digital safety net

Watch the next episode:

Episode 7: Validating the results

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We will watch the new bell crank being built using an additive manufacturing process called Selective Laser Melting (SLM). But before we can do that, we need to do some preparation -- adding “support structures” to the component so that it doesn’t deform during the building process. This work is captured in the digital thread and preserved for future builds. It is also used to generate machine instructions for the printer to use when building the part. One final enhancement to the build process will be the incorporation of “in-situ” monitoring to collect data on the quality of the build for use during testing and validation to inform our Smart Inspection process. We’ll get to that in our next episode. But before we do, we need to do some post-processing!

Further references:

Deborah Mies, Will Marsden, Stephen Warde, “Overview of Additive Manufacturing Informatics: A Digital Thread”, Springer, DOI 10.1186, 2016, accessed January 22, 2018.

Sarah K. Everton, Matthias Hirscha, Petros Stravroulakis, “Review of in-situ process monitoring and in-situ metrology for metal additive manufacturing”, Elsevier, Materials and Design 95 (2016) 431–445, 2016, accessed January 22, 2018.

Mark Cotteleer, Stuart Trouton, Ed Dobner, “3D opportunity and the digital thread”, Deloitte Insights, March 3, 2016, accessed January 9, 2018.

Mark Cotteleer, Jonathan Holdowsky, Monika Mahto, “The 3D opportunity primer”, Deloitte Insights, March 6, 2014, accessed January 22, 2018.

Siemens, “Produce quality parts with industrial additive manufacturing software”,  accessed June 4, 2018

Deloitte, “Digital Thread for Additive Manufacturing (DTAM)”, accessed June 4, 2018