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  • By Brian Reilly
  • In Blog
  • Posted 27/03/2017

Additive Manufacturing (AM) – the industrial version of 3D printing - is a breakthrough technology that promises to deliver new efficiencies such as on-demand production and significant time-to-market reduction. With McKinsey & Company recently stating the industry could become worth up to $200bn it is a method that is fast becoming mainstream. Indeed, the world’s largest manufacturer GE is on the verge of using AM to produce jet parts and are investing heavily for the future.

However, the adoption of new technology presents challenges which need to be taken into account when considering such an investment. These challenges are both financial and operational, and the effective use of simulation helps not only to refine the actual manufacturing process, but can also be used to develop a robust business case for adoption.

Metalysis is a UK based AM company who have a patented process for producing high value metals such as titanium and tantalum. Their disruptive technology offers both economic and environmental benefits over traditional production methods. When they needed to test their planned manufacturing process they chose to partner with Lanner to create a WITNESS simulation model.

The aim of the simulation was not only to test and improve the process design. With a long-term goal to increase production of materials such as titanium and tantalum, Metalysis wanted to evaluate multiple electrolysis reactors operating in parallel to produce different metals, and the most efficient sequence of production to maximize equipment efficiency. A WITNESS simulation is a perfect solution to help with such a goal.

Simulating the process to improve efficiency and quantify the impact of decisions

WITNESS simulation was developed to provide a step-by-step visual representation of the Metalysis process to determine the most efficient method of operating high value machinery, such as a shared crane resource, before it was even purchased.

Predictive simulation can also be applied to guide decisions including:

  • Determining the throughput capacity and process capability of a new facility
  • Identifying and testing solutions for the removal of production bottlenecks
  • Verifying production planning decisions (e.g. Master Production Schedule)
  • Quantifying the impact of process changes and Capital Investment programs (which investments to make and in which sequence)
  • Making best use of resources including labour and equipment

The original WITNESS model for this project was created from a top down 2D orthogonal view. Since then, Metalysis and Lanner have worked together to create a 3D WITNESS model that showcases an immersive simulation of the process. This model is now being used to showcase Metalysis’ technology and the positive feedback and confidence provided to stakeholders is testament to the value that effective use of simulation can provide.

Lanner were proud to jointly present the simulation project with Metalysis at their recent opening event of the new £10m R&D facility in Rotherham. 'The Future of Solid State Metal Processing' launch event convened over 200 attendees from businesses spanning global additive manufacturing, metals, aerospace, engineering, trade associations, government, banking and academia.


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