Additive manufacturing gets standardized

By: 
January 15, 2010

Through a collaborative effort between the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and ASTM International, additive manufacturing gets its first standards: a universal language. Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates (Fort Collins, CO), an industry insider and consultant who participated in the working group, says, “I believe it’s one of the most important developments in this industry in recent history.”

The universal language for additive manufacturing is a first effort in the standardization for the industry, with the standardization of 25 terms. Working groups continue to develop standards for AF.

“It’s about time,” Wohlers notes in a telephone interview. “In fact, it’s really over due, but actually the timing isn’t bad. The use of additive manufacturing for part production gives us a reason to develop the language.”

Brent Stucker, PhD, a member of SME’s Rapid Technologies and Additive Manufacturing (RTAM) Community and an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Utah State University, explained in a release from the SME, “Rapid prototyping has meant different things to different manufacturers. It means quick prototyping to one and layered manufacturing to another. Now it’s called additive manufacturing.”

In an effort to eliminate the confusion over terminology, design, testing methods, materials, and processing differences, SME’s RTAM community approached ASTM to develop the industry's first-ever standards.

ASTM, in turn, formed the Committee F42 on Additive Manufacturing, including members of the RTAM community, to write new standards. The initial result is the publication, “Standard Terminology for Additive Manufacturing Technologies,” now available for purchase online. Prior to this publication, the lack of consensus within the additive manufacturing community often boiled down to something as basic as the name of the industry itself.

Stucker, who is also the chairman of Committee F42 said that terminology standards “will help clarify communications” especially in industries like medical manufacturing and aerospace where consistency is a must.

And according to ASTM, these new standards will “allow manufacturers to compare and contrast the performance of different additive processes” and “enable researchers and process developers to provide repeatable results.”

Wohlers says that many large OEMs have been extremely supportive of these efforts, including aerospace giants Grumman and Boeing, and Stryker Orthopedics, maker of joint implants. “It makes it all the more interesting and important,” says Wohlers. “We all share a sense of urgency to get these standards developed so we can benefit from them.”

In addition to terminology, Committee F42 will also develop other key standards. “Test methods will more than likely be our next effort, but additive manufacturing industry design, materials, and processes are also in the works and will be developed in parallel,” said Stucker, adding that ASTM’s Committee F42 is looking for additional members to help draft these standards. “We’re happy to draw expertise from anywhere in the world.”

To purchase a copy of this new standard and to support SME’s work on developing  them, visit the SME Online Store, click on the ASTM button and type “additive manufacturing” in the search field to locate F2792-09. Clare Goldsberry

 

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