Additive Manufacturing Revolutionizes Valve Production
3D printing falls into the category of additive (as opposed to traditional subtractive) manufacturing. A trending technique for scientists, engineers and hobbyists alike, 3D printing has revolutionized everything from reconstructive surgery to wildlife preservation to toy creation. And the valve industry is no exception here. The reality is that this profoundly effective new technology is considered to be the first true innovation to the sand casting process that the valve industry has seen in about two centuries!
One interesting and perhaps obvious difference between most 3D printing and the methodology used when producing valves is that the majority of 3D printing is conducted using polymers. Additive manufacturing for valves is largely conducted with metals. Direct production or production of a product mold are both employed for valve-manufacturing purposes.
Material and Color Combinations
A new addition to 3D printing technology, a machine called the Connex3 is capable of using multiple materials and colors simultaneously during the 3D-printing process. Valves can now be built through additive manufacturing with transparent materials and in a variety of colors, allowing complete, functional products to be produced all at once rather than being beholden to manufacture and assembly of all their respective parts; this is a significant time saver. This form of production also allows for lighter weight materials to be employed, which reflects in terms of savings in shipping costs.
All in all, this exciting new technology is revolutionizing valve production from the inside out. That said, the equipment and materials can be costly so this method of production is not yet cost effective industry wide for all purposes. Stay tuned, though. Our guess is that 3D printing is the wave of the future, and we’re going to see a lot more of it.