3D Printing and Distributed Manufacturing
American Holt uses 3D Printing/Distributed Manufacturing to drive down the cost of prototyping and increase the speed at which solutions are presented to customers. 3D printing enables us to ensure that parts are modeled correctly before releasing them for manufacturing. It is less expensive - in time and money - to 3D print a test prototype than it is to redesign or alter an existing mold.
Multiple design options can be printed and tested to ensure that the new parts work as intended. Frequently, mistakes in the mold design become apparent after fabrication which leads to more time consumed to accommodate mold iterations resulting in higher costs and longer lead time. 3D printing enables our engineers to identify issues before they arise, saving on manufacturing costs and reducing our time to market.
3D printing also enables us to develop complex machinery components that previously would have been prohibitively expensive or even impossible to manufacture due to the limitations of conventional manufacturing techniques. With the improvements in additive manufacturing, now the possibilities are endless. Geometry that has been difficult or impossible to build, like internal holes that change direction, is now possible with 3D printing. Lightweight lattice structure parts or complex surfaces are now simple to construct. Small production runs of custom parts are also feasible because there are no associated tooling costs.
Our engineers work with customers to identify the correct application for direct printed parts; what parts are cost effective for low volume printing. The process begins with a 3D digital copy of the part created using either a 3D modeling program or 3D scanner. The part is then "printed" utilizing additive manufacturing that, simply stated, creates products by adding one layer of material at a time. Due to rapid advancements, printers are now able to "print" a vast array of materials - from plastics and ceramics to metals including steel, brass and bronze.
American Holt is developing partnerships around the world so that parts can be printed locally, closer to the production facility. The ability to provide on-demand manufacturing will create significant cost savings for our customers by reducing on-hand inventory and more quickly responding to emergencies. No longer will it take considerable time and money to ship parts to foreign locations, especially during emergencies.