Imagining What's Next for the Construction and Equipment Industry
Thu March 02, 2017 - National Edition Rachael Everly
Set to be revealed at the ConExpo-Con/AGG 2017, the buzz around 3D printing industry's latest marvel, the “Project AME” or Additive Manufactured Excavator merits all the attention it is getting. Boasting of a superlative design in which the Boom is printed with smooth fluid flow passages allowing for an unprecedented integration of the Boom with the power of fluid, this piece of equipment is set to provide new insights on the untapped potential of integrating 3D printing in producing construction equipment.
As the world moves forward towards entering a new wave of innovation led by automation and artificial intelligence, our conventional methods of building and constructing equipment and buildings would also require a drastic overhaul to match the precision and efficiency required.
Additive manufacturing or 3D printing will have a crucial role to play in this scenario. Major breakthroughs have been made in the subsequent field but none has been of more importance than the World's first 3D printed excavator because it is the equipment industry's first successful instance of large scale construction and application on machinery of 3D printed steel. A milestone achieved, but how it will end up impacting the construction and equipment industry at large is the real question at hand.
Powering Lower Operational Costs
One of the prime goals of any industry is to lower the costs as much as possible. The additive manufacturing technology being used to design the world's first excavator of this kind is a step forward in the right direction and is showing promising signs.
There are two different research teams from the University of Minnesota and Georgia Tech that are working on making the design not just another tech feature, but a viable equipment sector commodity. The boom and the bucket are being designed by the Team from Georgia Tech with an integrated hydraulics system. This will serve three purposes: lowering the weight of the excavator; reducing manufacturing costs; and, most importantly, lowering subsequent maintenance costs.
The other team from the University of Minnesota is working on reducing the overall size of the excavator and making it more efficient by using additive manufacturing technologies to equip the machine with a much better cooling system, heat exchanger, and a highly adaptive hydraulic oil reservoir.
Moving The Possibilities Forward
This single innovation would bring more confidence of the construction and equipment industry in engaging with and trusting the additive manufacturing field. The whole excavator is not 3D printed; rather some of the most integral design components were manufactured through this method.
Making these improvements in the design components would not have been possible through conventional manufacturing methods as 3D printing provides precision and deftness towards pursuing more efficient designs.
What's more important for the equipment industry is that the extended possibilities acquired through additive manufacturing can also aid the integration of automation in the field and together both of them can bring in a drastic meltdown in the extra cost burden that the industry carries at the moment and will also strengthen the subsequent construction and mining industries by providing technology that performs better.
Attendees at ConExpo-Con/AGG 2017 will see a second excavator being printed live on the floor of the exhibition taking place at Las Vegas's Convention Center from March 7-11th, in a visual demonstration of how this technology is viable enough to be used in diverse manufacturing lines across the industry to produce integral design components on a massive scale.
The equipment industry hinges on the development of innovative designs intended to improve significantly on the current technology in place of which the most major component are hydraulic powered construction systems. The future looks promising with ConExpo-Con/AGG 2017's biggest unveiling and there will be a lot of industry stalwarts and experts present there to gauge for themselves on how to take things forward from here onwards in a formidable manner. —CEG Blogger
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