New Design Opportunities with 3D Printing

June 4, 2024
Use of 3D printing enables more design freedom compared to conventional manufacturing technology.

Additive manufacturing (AM), also referred to as 3D printing, has evolved greatly over the last several years and is now enabling a range of products to be produced using the technology. With this has come the opportunity to rethink the design of many components, including those in the fluid power and electric motion control space, to create more compact and optimized designs.

In this interview with Power & Motion, Valeria Tirelli, president and CEO of Aidro, and Dr. Matt Petros, co-founder and CEO of 3DEO, offer their insights into how component and system designs can be re-evaluated when using AM. 

Tirelli said the design freedom possible with AM is one of the biggest benefits her company has found with this manufacturing technology, especially for fluid power components. She gave the example of a hydraulic manifold Aidro developed for a customer looking for a lighter weight option. Using AM, it was possible to create a new manifold design by only adding material where it was needed.

"During the design phase, we [made] a simulation of the fluid dynamics and added the material where it was needed [for the functionality] of the manifold," she explained. The Aidro team first created the piping and channels, then added material which Tirellis said was a completely new approach for hydraulic manifold designs. 

READ MORE: Additive Manufacturing Brings Opportunities to Improve Component Design and Production

Changing mindsets about how to design products will be a key part of the continued uptake of 3D printing. Dr. Petros said most engineers today were classically trained with conventional manufacturing constraints in mind and so when they use AM there are often only minor changes made to their designs. 

But over the next 5-10 years, the upcoming engineering talent will likely have AM in mind as 3D printers are now available in most colleges and universities and even many high schools. "The engineering talent that is going to come out of schools and develop over the next several years is really going to be thinking additive first or at least the design freedom of additive as a primary design path rather than a come back after the fact," he said. 

This interview is from Power & Motion's June 14 webinar "How 3D Printing Offers New Design Opportunities" during which Tirelli and Petros offer their expertise on the new design opportunities possible when using 3D printing. Register for the webinar to watch it live or on demand at a later date

About the Author

Sharon Spielman | Technical Editor, Machine Design and Power & Motion

Sharon Spielman is a technical editor for Power & Motion and its affiliate publication Machine Design. As technical editor, her beat includes 3D printing/CAD; mechanical and motion systems, with an emphasis on pneumatics and linear motion; automation; robotics; and AR/VR.

Sharon has more than three decades of experience as a writer and editor for a range of B2B brands, including those that cover electrical design and manufacturing; interconnection technology; food and beverage manufacturing; process heating and cooling; finishing; and package converting. 

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