industrial 3D printing

Industrial 3D Printing



layer individual component
trial (2) efficient revolutionize
shape structure reproduce
appear scale (4) conventional
mill (2) injection implement
focus function large-scale
torch area (2) save time
suited mold (2) water-tight
ensure approve procedure
nozzle destined conventional
replace wear out from time to time
process stage (2) one day (2)
laser catch up spare part
turbine progress combustion
allow cast iron quadruple
limit innovate cost effective
drill overnight break through
worth currently turn it on its head
pioneer worldwide





A component for a machine tool appears layer for layer, printed in plastic.

Hagen Karsten Tschorn is a pioneer in this area. He spent the past 25 years working with 3D printing technology.

It can reproduce the most complex shapes and structures. Tschorn says 3D printing is only just getting started. He believes its development will revolutionize the working world.

Hagen Karsten Tschorn, Canto CEO: “One day, designers won’t need to know about conventional manufacturing procedures; they’ll just know which component they want to design and 3D printing will then implement that one to one.

Designers won’t have to think, ‘Can it be milled? Can it be made with an injection mold?’ All they’ll need to focus on is the function of the actual component.”

A vision of the future that his team is already living.

Here they’re printing individual components of a diving torch. Manufacturing them through printing ensures they are absolutely water-tight and ideally suited for the job.

But only a small number of torches are being produced.

When it comes to the large-scale series production used in the automotive industry, or in aircraft construction, things aren’t so easy.

Hagen Karsten Tschorn, Canto CEO: “In major industries, it’s quite a long process getting new materials approved. The material is used for injection molds or other conventional forms of manufacturing can’t always be used in the same way for 3D printing.”

As a result, the new technology has been slow to catch on in industry.

German industrial giant Siemens has made some progress. These gas turbines are destined for Bangladesh, where they’ll be used for producing electricity.

The combustors in the turbines contain nozzles that can wear out. And so they need to be replaced from time to time.

Siemens now uses 3D printing to produce these parts, helping to save time.

This additive manufacturing, as it’s known, has long since passed the trial stage at Siemens.

Inside the printing machine, a laser cuts the parts out of the production material. This allows complex shapes to be produced easily.

They actually make the nozzles work more efficiently.

But for larger spare parts, this method is problematic.

Sebastian Piegert, Additive Manufacturing Group Lead, Siemens: “I don’t believe we can produce the housing for the gas turbines for example in a cost-effective way using 3D printing. They’re made of cast iron and weigh around fifty tons, not the way the technology is today anyway.

At the moment, 3D printing is limited to components of maybe 500 millimeters by 500 millimeters by 500 millimeters.”

In large-scale factories, this innovative technology soon reaches its limits.

When manufacturing these turbines, employees still operate the drilling and cutting machines, so 3D printing is at least not turning the working on its head overnight.

The high production costs are a problem.

Hagen Karsten Tschorn believes it will take another ten to fifteen years for the technology to really breakthrough in industry.

Hagen Karsten Tschorn, Canto CEO: “The problem is that a printing machine like this one costs the same as a medium-sized house, so about 200 to 250 thousand Euros. And every kilo of this material costs around 400 Euros.

That makes components that are a bit larger much more expensive. Material for conventional injection molding costs about two to four Euros a kilo.”

But business is growing rapidly. The 3D printing industry is currently worth five billion Euros worldwide. That figure is forecast to quadruple by 2020.

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1. Hagen Karsten Tschorn is a new, university graduate. What do you think?

2. Has 3D technology reached its apex (peak), or is it in the early stages of development?

3. In the future, will producing 3D components require a lot of technical and engineering skill?

4. 3D printing can produce large turbines. True or false? Are there size limits of 3D printing? What are the maximum dimensions of a 3D printed object?

5. For now, factories still use traditional milling, drilling, cutting and grinding to produce components. Is this right or wrong?

6. Will breakthroughs in 3D technology happen in the next three years?

7. Is it cheap or expensive to produce parts using 3D printing?

8. Is the 3D printing industry growing, shrinking or staying the same size?


A. Our company employs 3D technology. Yes or no?

B. What parts could be made with 3D printers? Would it be advantageous to make certain components with 3D printers?

C. Have you seen or used a 3D printer before?

D. What sort of thinks would you like to make for your home or personal use using 3D technology?

E. What will happen in the future?


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