Interview Yves Hagedorn
Yves Hagedorn, Managing Director from Aconity3D, is since 2009 a passionate speaker at events on the topic Additive Manufacturing. Knowledge which he professionally obtained during his work for the Fraunhover Institute for Laser Technology. Later on he also started teaching at Mikrocentrum. For the upcoming year of 2016 we have asked his opinion on the latest developments in Additive Manufacturing.
If you would look back at the developments in 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing, what are the most exciting developments in your professional opinion?
Hagedorn: “I think in plastics maybe it’s the Clip-technology. This is a process, which boosts productivity of the traditional stereo lithography process. Unfortunately, however, mechanical properties are – to my knowledge –insufficient for most engineering disciplines. At this, for polymers, the benchmark for mechanical strengths should be comparable to injection molding.
Despite possibly insufficient material strengths, Clip is very useful for fast preparation of prototypes. It’s a giant leap in productivity and hopefully other AM-technologies will follow.
Is the Clip technique of use for both the business- and home professional?
That depends on the final applications, users have in mind. For demonstrating objects for design studies, Clip is a nice approach and much cheaper than traditional Stereolithography. Therefore, it can be of great use for conveying visions of new possible products.
Could you explain the impact of 3d printing with metal?
A lot has moved last year and different companies are applying metal 3d printing. Now Trumpf is back, a mayor German tool machine manufacturer. They already were active in the industry until 2006 and they have all the patents, so they are well equipped. If such a large player comes back on the market, you can expect a lot to happen. That holds also in terms of productivity and final quality of end use parts, which will be applied in all kinds of industrial surroundings.
What are your expectations for 2016, where are these developments leading us?
I expect the machines to allow higher productivity rates while having increased quality, which is really important. But it won’t be mayor leaps, like a factor of 10 times – at least in the next few years under an economic point of view.
There will be improvement in productivity and quality management, but also and that’s crucial, improvement in data preparation. Right now in order to get your data to your machine, you rely on some few providers of data preparation programs and in my humble opinion, an ideal solution does not yet exist. A holistic data chain with a continuous data format, also known to CNC milling and tourning will be something to tackle next year, I hope. In my opinion that’s important because then part quality will improve and post processing may be performed without an additional step of post-AM data acquisition for referencing.
What are some of the biggest breakthroughs in AM if you look at it from a medical perspective?
Nowadays almost 90% of all dental restorations are built with selective laser melting. Of course this is an ideal application, those parts are small, but for medical per se the biggest breakthroughs are customized parts. And Lot Size One is a selling point for additive manufacturing.
I expect Additive Manufactured parts will be available for a larger amount of patients, because the cost will drop. There is no question in that because if not, it’s difficult to compete with traditional manufacturing technologies. Right now you can compete with increased functionality, added value, or increased complexity. Then the cost are on second degree. However, if you are looking at the same functionality as conventional manufactured parts, then the cost need to be competitive as well.
So now AM is big in dental, but there are studies on the use of other materials for different applications. For example there are studies using PLA which is biodegradable plastics, mixed with some biodegradable ceramic filler. Combined you can process an implant which shows an interconnected porosity allowing the bone to grow and heal on the inside. The implant shall be completely dissolved after two years and fully replaced by bone. That are things you can’t do with traditional manufacturing due to the material and the interconnected porosity. That’s an advantage of AM that you can’t have with traditional materials right now. And the more it gets applied, the cheaper it will become. So I hope that’s something we will see more often in the future.
And what are some of the biggest breakthroughs from an engineering perspective?
In my opinion, and it’s not a breakthrough yet but hopefully in the next five years, digital materials. Meaning the mechanical properties of materials depend on the geometry.
So if you, for example, use aluminum and you process it completely dense you have the mechanical properties of aluminum. But you can, maybe in a greater way, start having some interconnected porosity with 90% air and only 10% aluminum. So the density decreases and that has crucial impact on your mechanical structure. So if you pull on it, it acts like chewing gum plus it weighs less.
So I think one of the biggest breakthroughs is having tools and a material library in 3D-CAD designing tools that allow for engineer part according to the mechanical strengths from one material. So let’s that say “I need high mechanical strengthss here, but I need low mechanical strengths over there”. Then the library helps you to identify what kind of density you need for your mechanical part. The part being built from aluminum material shall have different mechanical properties solely depending on the manufactured geometry and that’s something really big. Think of the aeronautics market. If you build a rocket or satellite then getting the material in space is very expensive so if you can save some weight while meeting your mechanical requirements. I believe that is something really valuable to this industry.
What do you think about the development of RapidPro?
I like it a lot. So far I’ve been there twice. It grew bigger and bigger and now is scheduled for a lengths of 3 days. I’ve talked to some companies in Aken who also visit the event regularly and they are really fond of that show. So honestly nothing bad to say, I like it.
Besides speaking at events, what was your motive to start teaching for Mikrocentrum?
Actually, I was approached in the transition phase from Fraunhofer ILT to Aconity3D and I was really interested in giving training sessions, because I felt that little knowledge about this technology is available. That might be, because there is no apprenticeship on 3D printing or such. Also for me it is crucial to learn what potential customers want to do with this technology. Also, I like that students can take something home with them, which they can apply and might result in new fantastic applications.
What can students expect from your classes?
Right now there is a lot of interest in Additive Manufacturing in the Industry. Everybody wants to buy equipment and believes that the business case falls right out of the machine. But of course that’s not the case so we tried to create a training which tackles that issue. It helps people to get some first insights in the technology, and later on in the new Design For Additive Manufacturing course, they get some further insights which help them to design for that new process.
The Additive Manufacturing course gives you an overview in general AM technologies. Being for polymers, ceramics or metals. Then we talk about some business cases - how people make money with it, that’s always very interesting. And there is the software side, that’s all about how to process your data so you can build your part. And you learn what to keep in mind by designing your parts. So given that it’s for almost all AM technologies this course can only provide some insights at the surface. The ‘Design for AM course’ on the other hand is a more deep insight for metal processes for example. In all courses the trainee will also get ‘hands – on’ experience in working with AM equipment on top of theoretical backgrounds and real life examples from the industry.
Would they be needing particular equipment at their company?
No, not at all. Some participants will never have equipment due to the costs. If you think about metal equipment for example, that’s really expensive. So some of the participants go to a job-shop which produces the parts that they have designed.
Here in the course it’s more important how you apply the technology. Also you learn which technology is able of doing what? The course contains a hands-on part to start a 3d-print job on a powder bed metal machine in the facilities of Aconity3D. So the course is not only theoretical, we want to actually show some issues to think about while working with Additive Manufacturing in order to gain the most profit out of it.
The idea is to teach you how you can work with AM. A lot of engineers are not really sure what AM means, what materials you can process and the dimensions and service quality’s, and here we are trying to convey that knowledge and help them if they want to buy equipment to get that decision done or how to find someone to build the final parts with the quality they want.
Where are you most proud of?
Actually in summer I visited Lombok, which is next to Bali in Indonesia. I‘m not a big tracking guy but I thought it would be a good idea to climb a volcano of 3700 meters height. That was the hardest thing I ever did. At the start it’s really hot and you think you’re going to burn. But later on the top, across the clouds, you start freezing, and the next morning you get up very early in the morning to see the sun rise. Never again, but fantastic!