CASTOR: Challenges & Opportunities of 3D Printing for the Oil and Gas Industry

For over a century, the oil and gas industry has driven many of the industrial innovations that have taken place around the world. According to research, the oil and gas industry is estimated to be ~$210B and supplies some ~10M jobs just in the United States.

When we look at the adoption of Additive Manufacturing, the oil and gas industry has yet to realize its true potential, and it has been growing comparatively slower than other industries. However, with the industry facing challenges from oil price volatility and a shift towards alternative energy sources, it is increasingly becoming essential for stakeholders to reduce operational costs, and they are searching for innovative solutions to tackle this challenge

Along with the demand for this Energy as a commodity that is never seeming to dip, innovative companies, both large and small, are looking at 3D Printing in the energy, oil, and gas industry as the next big manufacturing innovation to drive the industry into the future.

Common Examples of 3D Printing in the Oil and Gas Industry

Production of drilling tools:

Additive manufacturing is being used to produce stabilizers, drill bits, and other downhole tools for oil and gas exploration and production.

Replacement parts:

3D printing in the oil and gas sector can also manufacture replacement parts for valves, pumps, and other equipment that are no longer available or difficult to source, reducing the requirement of expensive repairs.

Customized pipeline components:

The technology is beneficial in producing customized pipeline components, including fittings, flangers, and connectors. These can be manufactured on demand while being customized to specific applications, thereby boosting performance and reducing lead times.

For instance, 3D Printing spare parts for the nuclear sector companies like IMI CCI are utilizing Metal Additive Manufacturing to outfit oil and gas pipelines. This metal 3D Printing technology is helping to both shorten and solve supply chain problems through the on-demand manufacturing capacity from direct metal laser digital manufacturing.

The Challenges of Adopting Additive Manufacturing in the Oil and Gas Industry

While 3D Printing could be a useful addition compared to traditional manufacturing methods, the adoption of the technology involves some hurdles for oil and gas companies.

Material Composition Standards

The oil and gas industry operates in harsh environments with high pressures, high temperatures, and corrosive substances, all materials used must be compatible with these conditions. While there are several options for 3D printing materials, including metal and polymer, not all materials are suitable for these harsh environments.

Governance & Regulatory Requirements

The oil and gas industry involves numerous governing bodies that set standards for the entire supply chain within the energy sector, such as the American Petroleum Institute (API). Those can hinder the adoption of 3D Printing in oil, gas & renewable energy sectors.

Lack of expertise in the technology

Additive Manufacturing is a rather new technology that is going through a fast research and development cycle. The adoption process of 3D printing is often slow, requiring an immense amount of Engineering know-how to get things operational.

How Additive Manufacturing Can Overcome these challenges

Overwhelmingly, the oil and gas industry is (and has been) at an inflection point.

It utilizes 3D printing to make parts that are complex in shape and cheap, such as spares and replacements. There are various advantages that the technology offers over conventional subtractive manufacturing. Aside from part consolidation, circular supply chain, improved quality control and a number of other benefits, Additive Manufacturing finds itself integral in a number of ways in the oil and gas industry. Continue on to learn more about some of these applications and the tangible benefits 3D Printing offers.

On-Demand Manufacturing

Oil and gas plants are spread all around the world, this means that the logistic efforts and costs are high. The high cost of downtime further exacerbates the difficulty with component supply. Most operators work to reduce unplanned downtime by keeping large inventories of vital spare parts, since creating high-quality parts for maintenance and repairs is necessary and adds expense to transportation and production.

There are numerous additive manufacturing techniques available to optimize asset maintenance. Industry leaders, suppliers, and maintenance companies are all pursuing additive manufacturing to do repairs faster and with higher design quality. 3D printing in the oil and gas industry uses on-demand printing to reduce warehouse inventories. Given the historical volatility of oil prices, the savings that follow are more significant. A large oil company like Shell or GE Oil have an array of 3D Printing applications just within the realm of offshore rigs, oil drills, and rapid prototyping. Many of these organizations use 3D Printing to maintain these rigs which contain pipes and transportation methods used for the global oil and gas industry,

a soldier using military machinery
Reducing Inventory Costs

Minimized transportation costs, enhanced design freedom, just-in-time manufacturing and more are just some of the reasons why we see an opportunity for 3D Printing to benefit the product development and overall manufacturing process within the oil and gas drilling industries. Using additive manufacturing, production costs can be decreased while lead times are shortened.

Enhanced Component Quality

In the case of GE Energy, their direct benefits related to 3D Printing come in the form of 3D Printed metal cement for gas turbines to increase wind farm efficiency. Not only is time savings a huge factor in this application, but material costs go down in addition to improved component integrity.

Complex Geometries

Some parts used in the oil and gas industry have complex geometries that are difficult to manufacture using traditional methods. 3D Printing allows for the creation of complex geometries that are precise and accurate. This 3D technology can be used to create parts suchas turbomachinery impellers, turbine blades & nozzles, and other complex shapes that are essential to energy manufacturing and alternative design. Additionally, the emergence of 3D Scanning technology has also assisted companies that are considering adopting 3D Printing. Product designers alike are quickly becoming aware of the benefits an additive manufacturing process can help with, especially for heavy manufacturing equipment, offshore drills, rigs, and other parts of the oil and gas industry.

Also, some techniques for additive manufacturing, like direct energy deposition, could be used to fix or remake old manufacturing equipment. By extending the lifespan and efficiency of worn-out and damaged components like valves, pumps, and shafts, the approach can reduce total operating and maintenance costs.

Innovating New Products

One of the best things about 3D printing is that it can speed up the process of making new products. Thanks to additive manufacturing, products may be quickly and affordably created, prototyped, manufactured, tested, and validated. The oil and gas industry can use this benefit to quickly adjust to new market opportunities and spot any problems before they happen during the design stage.

In 2016, Shell used 3D printing to make a successful prototype of an oil and gas drilling buoy. Traditional methods of making things would have taken months to make a working plastic prototype, but thanks to the technology, the experts were able to do this in just four weeks.

Another example is Siemens, which recently produced a 3D-printed burner for an industrial gas turbine. It could be produced in one piece instead of being manufactured in 13 distinct pieces to be welded together.

As additive manufacturing enables the creation of complicated components with greater performance, less weight, and increased durability, it has the potential to revolutionize the oil and gas industry. To increase the overall effectiveness of the industry, the sector must continue to create materials and procedures that work with additive manufacturing.

To summarize,

The use of additive manufacturing in the oil and gas industry might spread to regional hubs and offshore locations, revolutionizing supply chain processes. Over the next ten years, as new uses for 3D printing are found and new business opportunities with 3D printing materials and technology come up, the oil and gas industry will definitely see and take advantage of its benefits.

CASTOR: Additive Manufacturing Applications in the Defense Industry

With the demand for modern technologies to reduce production costs, and open innovative design and engineering options, Additive Manufacturing has the potential to revolutionize the Defense and Military industries.

3D Printing delivers various benefits to cutting-edge industries, such as Aerospace, Machinery, and Automotive, as we previously covered in our blog. The industry that we'd like to focus on today is the Defense industry, which can benefit from the characteristics of additive manufacturing technology, both domestically and internationally.

Recent sources project the worldwide aerospace & defense industry to be spending ~$6 Billion on 3D Printing by the year 2027. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, given the adoption of this versatile technology for a variety of applications and use cases. There’s consistent demand projected with the growth of 3D Printing in the defense sector. According to a study by Defense Intelligence, a staggering 75% of business executives anticipate that additive manufacturing will become commonplace in that sector over the next 10 years.

Which Additive Manufacturing applications can be found in the Defense Industry?

What is the main use of 3D printing for the Military and other Defense sectors?

What used to be plastic/polymer parts for prototype and R&D has scaled into full-blown production, replacements for traditional manufacturing, and cutting-edge technology that’s positively changing the entire design and product development process. Whether it’s tier 1, 2 or 3 Defense manufacturing companies, Marine/Army/Air Force design teams, and everything in between, Additive Manufacturing has become a prevalent force for Defense and Military applications.

Below we’ll look at just some of the ways 3D Printing is impacting Military & Defense:

MRO (Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul)

In high-stakes environments, such as the battlefield, moving quickly is of the utmost importance to remain competitive. When time is of the essence, it’s often inefficient, time consuming, and wasteful to utilize technologies such as CNC Machining.

Metal 3D Printing is positioned well thanks to its just-in-time factor, along with producing consistent metal parts rivaled (or superior) to that of traditional manufacturing technologies.

Spare Parts, Replacements for Obsolete Components

In the harsh environments of outer space, combat zones, and others, having 3D Printing in the arsenal of manufacturing is crucial. Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) is also top of mind for Aerospace 3D designers, in conjunction with DfAM (Design for Additive Manufacturing).

Aviation companies like GE (General Electric) have been able to take advantage of CAD Software, FEA Mechanical/Strucutal Analysis Tools, and Metal 3D Printers to entirely re-imagine simple brackets with complex, organic geometries like the picture.

Having on-demand additive manufacturing capabilities for spare parts thanks entirely to additive manufacturing is another clear-cut application for the defense sector. With a variety of aircrafts, vehicles and systems being manufactured in short order, it’s often difficult or impossible to come by OEM parts for when something breaks.

Whether it’s manufacturing the end-use component directly from a 3D Printer, or producing tooling for a given part, Additive Manufacturing is proving itself to be a vital innovation for New Product Innovation (NPI) as well as maintaining an existing fleet.

Aircraft Fixtures, Dies & Tooling

Innovators in the aerospace industry are quickly finding success in the use of additive manufacturing for a variety of tooling, mold, and die applications. What was once previously CNC Machined, can now be 3D Printed to serve industry players such as the US Military, Defense contractors, and organizations in need of precise analysis for their additive manufacturing workflows.

3D Printed Rockets, Advanced Composites, and more

In more recent years of VC-funded startups in the US, many build their entire business model around the flexibility and agile method of 3D Printing rockets, rocket components, and many other components that go on or inside launch vehicles and payloads.

There are in fact a number of companies that solely use additive manufacturing and nothing else to manufacture natural liquid gas rockets, such as Relativity Space in California.

All of the major commercial aviation giants (ie. Boeing, Airbus, etc.) are huge adopters of Additive as well for engine components, interior plane parts, and everything in between.

Advanced Technological Research & Development

Aside from the Supply Chain shortening and efficiency increases that additive manufacturing commands, the planned US military budget for this year includes roughly $13.2 billion for technology research. One obvious sign of the growing interest in 3D printing's possibilities for defense applications is its increased support for additive manufacturing. Technology partnerships, such as the CASTOR <> Stanley Black and Decker <> EOS, are fundamental for the integration of Metal 3D Printing in the Digital Manufacturing ecosystem.

UAV Sub-assemblies, Satellites, Drones & more

The range of additive manufacturing applications for various military vehicles, aircrafts, and projects spans in many ways. Whether it’s prototyping/tooling for an aerospace component, or providing unique solutions for combat readiness (see image below), additive manufacturing has found its way into every part of the product development process.

3D Printing Applications Across All Branches of US Military

One of the most significant benefits of AM is the ability to produce complex geometries that are difficult or impossible to manufacture using traditional methods. Combined with increased design flexibility, additive manufacturing is often a much more sustainable practice for virtually all areas/branches of the military.

For example, the US Army has been using AM to create lightweight brackets and mounts for handheld launch components to help more evenly distribute weights and loads. This same project also led to a lighter weight part with comparable rigidity and flexion compared to its previously injection-molded counterpart.

3D Printing Barracks is another application the DoD has begun testing using large cement 3D Printers.

The US Navy has also been using AM to produce complex components for submarines, which are often difficult to access and repair. This technology has allowed the Navy to produce parts on demand, reducing the need to stockpile spare parts and improving the overall readiness of the fleet.

Limitations and Challenges of 3D Printing in the Defense & Military Sector

Despite the many benefits of AM in the military sector, there are still some limitations and challenges that must be addressed.

  • Material selection: The additive manufacturing materials used must be suitable for the equipment’s intended application. This can be particularly difficult in the defense sector because materials must adhere to strict standards for strength, toughness, and resistance to harsh environments, in addition to higher heat resistance.

<< Here is an example of just some of the polymer 3D Printed parts that undergo FAA Certification for commercial aircrafts


  • Quality Control: As additive manufacturing creates components layer by layer; it might be challenging to find flaws. For safety and dependability in the defense sector, it is essential to make sure that parts fulfill the necessary quality & ruggedization (ie. Mil-Spec) standards.

  • Cybersecurity Threats: Additive manufacturing defense technology is susceptible to cyberattacks, which could jeopardize the production process's security and dependability. Data security raises significant concerns in the defense sector, where reliable and secure systems, processes and components are essential.

  • Data Governance/Compliance: Vital elements to ITAR or CMMC military/DoD compliance requirements are stringent, and are top-of-mind for any US contract aerospace/defense manufacturing organization. However, having an automation-centric solution can be an essential part of one’s process to validate & certify 3D Printed components for most aerospace and military-grade specifications.

To Conclude,

Additive Manufacturing has revolutionized the way the defense industry produces and maintains its equipment. The ability to produce complex geometries quickly and efficiently, as well as the reduction in lead times, has enabled the military to become more agile and flexible in its operations. While there are still limitations and challenges to be addressed, the future of AM in defense looks promising, with new materials and multi-material printing.

The use of industrial software-driven solutions and deep analysis software tools like CASTOR offer unique insights into understanding direct costs associated with 3D printing, before the first batch has been manufactured. When it comes to analyzing and planning the digital supply chain for the aerospace and defense industry, CASTOR is a prominent industry player for parts identification and for optimizing AM production, automatically. To learn more about how CASTOR can automatically analyze your product design files to help your organization discover additive manufacturing opportunities, to and experience CASTOR - schedule your demo.

CASTOR: Can Additive Manufacturing Improve Sustainability?

According to the EPA, Carbon Emissions have increased upwards of 90% since the 1970’s. Following the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement, companies of all sizes look to reduce their carbon footprint consistently over time, to combat the ever-growing issue of global warming. With Industrial companies accounting for nearly 54% of the world’s energy consumption, it’s something all sectors and industries are starting to think much harder about.

Over the last decade, we’ve seen initiatives at every level (national, state, etc.) to promote sustainability across nearly all industries - automotive, aerospace, machinery, and more. Whether it’s using less energy, shortening the supply chain, or just reducing waste, making products that have less environmental impact is becoming a growing trend among all sectors across the entire globe.

Having accurate, real-time data is one of the crucial factors for decarbonization, and reducing the 1/5th of carbon emission the manufacturing industry is responsible for. Technologies like Additive Manufacturing aim to address these issues and actually promote a greener, more sustainable means of production.

While 3D Printing is not a new concept by any means, it’s only within the last few years that its popularity and real-world use cases have begun to take off. While 3D printing isn’t necessarily always the most suitable option for production, there are numerous aspects throughout the product lifecycle when it can have sustainable advantages.

The key points that we'll address in this blog post emphasize what many experts refer to Additive as a “circular economy,” which is a direct benefit Additive derives throughout the product life cycle. Combine all of these elements together and you have a much leaner, refined product development process that reduces waste, energy, and significantly reduces the iterative process that most manufacturing processes are used to.

Credit: MicroCare

Sustainability Elements of Additive Manufacturing

Less Material Waste & Scrap

Compared to older technologies such as CNC Machining, the ability to use 3D Printed metal or polymer to create an end-use component is a much more eco-conscious process compared to Subtractive Manufacturing. Now manufacturers can place (print) raw material precisely, eliminating scrap/waste you’ll typically see with leftover metal chips after a CNC batch run.

And even for the powder or filament that’s left behind, most of that can actually be recycled and reused in another batch run, All in all, Additive uses far less material than traditional technologies do, while still maintaining the same integrity of that component’s design and durability.

On-Demand Manufacturing

COVID-19 brought awareness to many industries about just how complex and lengthy it is to get from Art-to-Part. With 3D Printing and digital transformation, anyone can create something within a moment’s notice via CAD, and have that functional component ready to go in a matter of hours, or days. No large upfront costs like setup time, tooling, or minimum batch quantities are tied to prototyping now, and production can be done completely on-demand.

No longer do they have to sit and wait for Design to pass a drawing to Manufacturing to then be created. With lead times growing for most production shops, it only strengthens the business case for implementing Additive Manufacturing to an existing product development lifecycle.

Shortening of Supply Chain

Speaking of lead times, 3D Printing is now helping to cut one’s supply chain down quite drastically. The lag between Concept to Design to Prototyping to Production is now significantly shortened thanks to the on-demand capabilities Additive offers.

Additionally, even if a given company doesn’t have access to 3D Printing technology, the mass adoption of Additive has led to some saturation. Ultimately meaning, you can still have parts produced quickly, at fairly low cost by simply sending a 3D CAD model to a service bureau for them to produce for you.

Less Transportation Costs

With the mass adoption of 3D Printing in most developed nations, the supply chain from Manufacturer to End-User is typically much shorter. Even if a company is not producing a given component in-house, they can often outsource this production to a supplier located fairly close by.

This reduction in transportation costs translates to a more inexpensive part which emits far less CO2 compared to someone in the United States needing to have parts shipped from Asia, as an example. Ultimately, companies can now source their lower volume components much closer than they used to be able to, thanks to the on-demand capabilities ushered in by 3D Printing.

Direct Connection to Designing for SWaP

Size, Weight & Power are of high consideration for designers in industries such as Aerospace, Aviation, Automotive, and more. With Generative Design and the enablement for more organic geometries, Additive Manufacturing is pushing the envelope for what’s possible to be designed and manufactured. Reduction in weight correlated to more efficient use of a rocket engine, car motor, or propulsion mechanism, ultimately allowing for better fuel economy and increased performance.

To conclude, there are many advantages to 3D Printing as a sustainable production method with a low environmental impact. Identifying the parts that benefit from these advantages is a challenging task, yet significant and crucial for decision making

In today’s marketplace, there’s a clear need to measure the “sustainability of 3D Printing", and consider all of the metrics that play into its place in the global supply chain. While manufacturers look to innovate their existing processes, they need powerful analysis software packages to help them automatically calculate for CO2 emissions, cost per part, material costs, and other elements that play into Additive Manufacturing, in order to make smarter decisions that align with their sustainability goals.

Additionally, software tools can help to provide insights before production, allowing an operations team to simulate various scenarios before launching into volume production. Thus, aiding buyers, designers, and business owners in reducing their overall carbon footprint and achieving aggressive goals and initiatives around sustainability.

Roland Berger's article - "How sustainable is AM today?" states that "a quick and easy tool or software program to predict the difference between an AM part and a conventional one with a high degree of certainty is essential. such a tool could boost the application of AM in areas where it is currently considered too expensive".

We, as well, believe that identifying the right parts that can benefit from Additive Manufacturing and reduce CO2 emissions is a game changer for those manufacturers and we are eager to share our vision and our solutions that address this challenge.

Stay tuned for future content as we take a deep dive, share our vision and reveal our solution for sustainable manufacturing processes.

To learn more about how CASTOR can automatically analyze your product design files to help your organization discover additive manufacturing opportunities visit

6 Key Themes & Take-Away’s from IMTS 2022 (Chicago, IL USA)

After 4 long, isolating and truly strange years, IMTS was back and in full swing after being absent in 2020 for COVID-related reasons. I was fortunate enough to have an entire day to explore the 1300+ exhibitors in the over 1.3 Million square feet of space at the McCormick Center in Chicago, Illinois. With so many exhibitors and conferences packed into IMTS, I planned by day and set out to Chicago. Here are among just some of the trends and major themes I saw during my time in the Windy City:   

Automation, Automation, Automation!

  • Robotics, PLC’s, IOT Hardware, Smart-Connected Machinery and more were among some of the constant reminders for where Automation Technology is in the world. Programming these autonomous systems is seemingly becoming easier over the years, and smart-sensors are now widely available for shops to closely monitor vital aspects of their production facility and equipment. I’m also seeing more and more factory-floor automation these days, as companies of all sizes aim to do more with less, and increase shop efficiency.

Increased Investment from Nikon in the Additive Manufacturing & Robotics Sectors 


3D Printing for Production

  • This is my 3rd IMTS, and throughout the years, I’ve seen a continually expanding Additive Manufacturing Pavilion in the West Hall of McCormick Place. After many years of overcoming the initial “hype phase,” I am seeing true end-use applications for 3D Printing with both Metallics and Polymers, that much was reflected in the booths of all 3D Printing Exhibitors I saw while walking the aisles. Whether it’s tooling for initial prototyping, doing small lot runs of an initial concept, or doing full-blown production with Additive, it’s here to stay, and is proving itself to be a viable manufacturing solution. It’s exciting to see a variety of large corporations make significant investments into Additive for Fortune 500, combined with Venture Capital funds allocated towards US-based startups. 

HP Announces new Metal SJ100 Series of Powder-Bed Additive Manufacturing Systems


Continuous Evolution of Machine Tools

  • The South Hall (Largest Hall at IMTS) has always boasted an impressive scale of the world’s largest Machine Tool companies, along with millions of pounds of sophisticated machinery. While the CNC & Machine Tool industry has had a number of decades to mature, there is still much innovation taking place for a variety of Machinery and Equipment OEM’s across the globe. Combined with cutting edge metal cutting tools and software to fine tune predictability with CAD and CAM, the Machine Tool industry continues to evolve into a highly automated, precise means towards high-volume production. 
    5 Axis CNC’s Working Envelope’s (^see cover image^) are Seemingly Endless, this Czech-based Machine Tool OEM (TRIMILL) makes some Large VMC’s with nearly 3000 mm travel in the X Axis!  

Enhanced Tooling/Workholding for Additive & Subtractive Manufacturing

  • Long gone are the days where machinists use simple 3-Jaw Chucks or Manual Vises for Machining applications. Tooling & Fixturing is now to a point where Programmers, Designers & Machinists can work in true harmony thanks to innovations in design & capabilities thanks to today’s workholding companies. Additionally, new ways to make tooling, suchas Additive Manufacturing, are breaking down the barriers for traditional tooling design. 
  3D Printing is changing the way we view (and design) tooling, while enhanced material research and manufacturing methodologies have enabled expedited product development of superior workholding pieces for CNC, Welding, and other Fabrication methodologies. Today’s design & analysis/simulation software allows us to predict how our parts will hold up in real life, while modern prototyping methods enables us to quickly test & iterate our ideas in real-time.   

Wilson Sporting Goods leverages Nexa3D Printers & AddiFab Tooling Material for Lean Product Development and R&D Workflow 


Unique Use-Cases for Robotics 

  • Although the US is considered a laggard in the robotics space, I was pleased to see an immense presence of robotics for a wide array of creative real-world applications at IMTS. Anything from simple machine tending and parts changing, all the way up to ambidextrous multi-task systems capable of various shop floor operations, robots and cobots sprawled the McCormick Place at every turn. A number of robots also assist with warehouse supervision, raw material packaging/delivery, and other repetitive jobs to free up human workers for more productive tasks. Though we are likely several decades out from complete robot takeover, there were certainly a higher number of these mechatronics at IMTS, and a wider array of tasks that they’re now capable of completing. 

OnRobot developed robotics specifically aimed at warehouse/factory floor automation  


Ever-Growing Use Cases for Industrial Software

  • As computers have grown & adapted the way we live our lives, so too has the app-based software that has supported this digital transition. Strolling through the North Hall of the exhibitors, I saw a large presence of several ERP, PDM/PLM, CAD & CAM companies that have expanded their presence along with market share in more recent years. Though not all of these different software’s might not work in complete unison yet, there seemed to be a variety of 3rd party integrators present at the show to act as the “glue” to pull all of these various systems together. 

FastSuite aims at Simulating the Robotics/Welding process prior to going into production

  While we’ve been disconnected from one another through the Pandemic, Manufacturers and Technologists alike were all able to gather in Chicago this September for a spectacular turnout at IMTS 2022. Exhibitors demonstrated an accelerated look into the future filled with Software-enabled production, Digitally-driven Manufacturing, and Equipment/Hardware to support our ever-evolving Global Supply Chain.    It’s fascinating for me, who’s only been involved professionally in Manufacturing Technology for just 6 years to see such a vast evolution with everything, via the IMTS show. I’m ecstatic for 2024 and what it will bring, oh, and for FormNext to be in the Windy City in just 3 years!

Baker Industries and Lincoln Electric Additive Solutions Establish Strategic Relationship with GA-ASI on Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing Feasibility Study

MACOMB, MI - Baker Industries, a Lincoln Electric Company, and Lincoln Electric Additive Solutions (LEAS) today announced a new strategic relationship with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) on a research and development project exploring the feasibility of wire-arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) for producing steel layup tooling used in the manufacturing of composite lamination for GA-ASI's unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

GA-ASI sought a solution for complex tooling that was repeatable, accurate, vacuum-tight, and rigid enough to withstand the stress and fatigue caused by repetitive autoclave cycles. After a collaborative review of several tool geometries and requirements, the companies’ engineering teams determined that WAAM could be the right solution.

Our turnaround time can be significantly quicker than larger job shops, and we can usually ramp up production quickly to combat fluctuations in customer demand.

Mike Wangelin, Business Development Manager, Lincoln Electric Additive Solutions/Baker Industries

Coupled with Baker's robust post-processing, fabrication, and inspection capabilities, WAAM's ability to quickly produce large, complex components using several materials could present a comprehensive solution to GA-ASI's production tooling needs. While still in the process of qualification at GA-ASI, the process has demonstrated preliminary success toward reaching production-level use in GA-ASI's manufacturing operations. Overall, GA-ASI has seen savings ranging between 30-40% in cost and about 20-30% in lead time using WAAM in place of traditional manufacturing processes for specific tool families and geometries. In addition, the first tool produced has passed GA-ASI's initial assessments. It is vacuum-tight, has a uniform thermal survey, and exceeds target GD&T requirements.

Wilson Sporting Goods Reimagines Product Development Workflows with Nexa3D x Addifab

Recently the Wilson R&D/product development team has thoroughly involved themselves in the additive manufacturing space, where they leverage a number of partners to assist with continuous product improvement and innovation. “We’re just barely scratching the surface of additive manufacturing,” says Glen Mason, Manager of Advanced Innovation/Industrialization at DeMarini (a division of Wilson Sporting Goods). “Not only are we looking to accelerate tooling and design iteration cycles, but we’re also looking at how to get to production-ready molds with zero R&D test components needed,” he explains. “Our goal with using Nexa3D’s 3D printer and Addifab’s FIM platform is to fail fast, and not stress ourselves out to get a design precisely right the first time.”

Wilson R&D team was looking for a more effective means to produce prototype injection.

Prior to discovering Nexa3D and Addifab, the Wilson design team was using traditional subtractive manufacturing methodologies to produce their tooling for plastic injection mold prototypes. While metal tooling is typically much more rigid and robust than polymer tooling, there are several design constraints one must consider before delving too far into the concept/design phase of things. Additionally, with a global manufacturing operation to support, Wilson was also looking for ways to shorten their product design lifecycle, and accelerate their time-to-market to find new ways to quickly churn out functional and testable prototypes.

Prototyping in a Day, Not Months

With Nexa3D’s large print envelope and ultrafast LSPc process, the Wilson R&D group can now produce multiple parts at once, in a rapid manner, allowing for multiple design iterations in a single print batch. In addition, what were previously several components assembled together can now be printed into one singular part, reducing assembly time and increasing durability for a given part. After drafting an initial concept, the R&D team can typically crank out a prototype in a single working day – a process that would have taken months to create previously.
“Because we can iterate so much quicker, print tools faster than we can machine, and eliminate a couple of the steps in the process, our R&D team can afford to be wrong. This helps us to greatly improve our time-to-market, allowing us to be quick and nimble with our design decision-making process.”
Glen Mason Manager of Advanced Innovation/Industrialization, DeMarini (a division of Wilson Sporting Goods)

Nexa3D + Addifab Create Strong Relationship

The long-term play is to continue to utilize this Nexa3D x Addifab platform to continue to churn out new innovations and improvements to existing product lines. Mason explained that the team is already using this same workflow to coordinate design efforts for adjacent product lines, and will continue to do so. Although it’s quite difficult to replace the durability and capabilities of metal production tooling, the Wilson product development team is constantly pushing the envelope on what’s possible using additive manufacturing as their primary tool.  


ISO 9001:2015

First published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1987, ISO 9001:2015 is a universal standard specifying the requirements for a quality management system (QMS). It is part of the ISO 9000 family, the best-known quality management standard in the world. With over one million companies and organizations possessing a certification from the ISO 9000 family, the standard is based on several quality management-related principles, including a customer-centric focus, motivation and implication of high-level management, process approach, and continual improvement.


Developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers and the European Association of Aerospace Industries in 1999, AS9100D is a widely adopted and recognized quality management system for the aerospace, aviation, space, and defense industry. This certification complements Baker's existing ISO 9001:2015 certification and includes additional industry-specific requirements for developing and manufacturing products for the sectors mentioned previously.


A global cooperative accreditation program for aerospace, defense, and related industries, Nadcap (the National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program) is "an industry-managed approach to conformity assessment." Baker's Nadcap certification, AC7130, ensures accuracy in measuring and inspecting products for these industries throughout the manufacturing process. It complements the two previously mentioned certifications and further strengthens Baker's quality management processes for its aerospace and defense manufacturing operations.


All performed by American Systems Registrar, an ANAB-accredited and IATF-approved registrar specializing in quality-related certifications, Baker's recertifications involved rigorous, weeks-long audits and assessments. The goal of these extensive audits is to:
  • Assess process conformity
  • Evaluate performance
  • Identify processes that require improvement to ensure the QMS remains fully implemented and to prepare for external audit/review for certification


The scope of these certifications spans every aspect of design, manufacturing, assembly, inspection, and post-sales operations at Baker Industries. Implementing a solid quality management system governed by these rigorous standards ensures that every part, prototype, or tool leaving Baker Industries is repeatable, in conformance with the tight tolerances required of the industries the company serves, and of top-tier quality. View or download Baker's latest certificates:
Baker Industries, a Lincoln Electric Company, is an industry-leading supplier to OEM and Tier 1 manufacturers in the world's most demanding industries. With five state-of-the-art facilities, a robust collection of equipment, and a workforce of hundreds in Macomb, Michigan, Baker is one of the industry's most diversified and capable suppliers of tooling, prototyping, CNC machining, fabrication, additive manufacturing, and more. For more information, visit

MaxResolution3D Relies on Nexa3D to Build its Manufacturing-as-a-Service Business   Birthed in 2021 after a pre-seed funding raise from private investments, Berlin-based startup MaxResolution3D seeks to take on serial production using Nexa3D’s additive manufacturing platform to help close the gap between injection molding, machining, and other traditional manufacturing technologies. Co-Founders Max Männel and Dario Dill have been friends since high school and first got in touch on a work base by scaling Männel’s former e-Commerce startup, Stoeberstube030. In February 2021, they decided to start their second venture through MaxResolution3D. After much investigation, the team landed on Nexa 3D’s additive manufacturing platform paired with robotics and sensoric for its speed, resolution, and flexibility to cater to numerous Europe-based companies. Operating as a production 3D printing service bureau via Nexa3D’s AM system, MaxResolution3D’s customers span a variety of industries, targeting especially those who are in need of small, complex, polymer components in production quantities.

NXE 400 Platform Proved to be the System of Choice

“With our NXE 400 3D printer, we’re able to keep up with our customers’ demands, which he simply could not achieve with one FFF printer. Because of the fast 3D printing our Nexa3D machine offers, it’s easy for us to have on-demand manufacturing available to our customers,” said Dario Dill. “Compared to other printers we looked into, the Nexa3D NXE 400 offered nearly perfect surface finish, very comparable to the original CAD model, requiring very little post-secondary work,” Männel added. One of the factors that largely swung in favor of the NXE 400 came when Dario and Max saw a robotic work cell; engineered by Nexa3D’s German partner, ProductionToGo, for handling part loading and secondary operations. One of their long-term goals as a company is to leverage similar robotics to further automate batch production with their NXE 400 system.
“Compared to other printers we looked into, the Nexa3D NXE 400 offered nearly perfect surface finish, very comparable to the original CAD model, requiring very little post-secondary work.”
  • Max Männel – Co-founder, MaxResolution3D

MaxResolution3D Team Has Grand Plans to Expand NXE 400 Platform

“Having robotics integrated with the workflow is something we value highly; nearly everything we’re doing manually today we hope to automate in the future,” said Dario Dill, Operations & Digitization Lead, MaxResolution3D. “Additionally, we have a polymer scientist on staff who’s helping us with the experimentation and implementation of various resins and other plastics into our existing material stack.” With only a year of history with MaxResolution3D, Dario and Max are hard at work landing and expanding onto their current production resin 3D printing partnerships all across Europe. In years to come, the team plans to expand into different geographies, a wider array of industries, and with a larger selection of material offerings. It all started with a single NXE 400 installation.



First issued in 1911, the Boiler & Pressure Vessel Code is a set of universally-recognized safety standards developed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers that regulate the design, manufacture, installation, inspection, and care of boilers, nuclear components, and other pressure vessels. Section IX of this code relates specifically to the qualification of welders, welding operators, brazers, and brazing operators and the procedures they employ in welding and brazing these items. This is a new qualification for Baker Industries, which has become a leading provider of CNC machiningfabrication, and additive manufacturing to the oil and energy industry in recent years, and strengthens the company's already extensive portfolio of qualifications and certifications.
Baker Industries, a Lincoln Electric Company, is an industry-leading supplier to OEM and Tier 1 manufacturers in the world's most demanding industries. With five state-of-the-art facilities, a robust collection of equipment, and a workforce of hundreds in Macomb, Michigan, Baker is one of the industry's most diversified and capable suppliers of tooling, prototyping, CNC machining, fabrication, additive manufacturing, and more. For more information, visit

How CNC Machining Has Transformed Automation in the Plasma Cutting Industry

Image by JA Huddleston from Pixabay

Plasma cutting is an evolving industrial technology that’s become a staple workhorse of proven R&D and prototyping capital equipment in metal fabrication production shops around the world.

While the cutting or subtractive manufacturing mechanisms vary between CNC machining and plasma cutting, the overall automation components like servo motors, ball screws, and controls are relatively parallel in terms of performance, utility, and programming.

After nearly a century of development, machining has enabled adjacent manufacturing and industrial processes to invent several other subtractive methodologies, such as wire EDM, CNC woodworking, water jetting, and more.

The two technologies, plasma and CNC, have proved to be sufficient in large volume production settings. Today’s automation equipment allows manufacturers to use these machines for heavy volumes or parts, large mixes of different designs, and a wide selection of metals to create components from.

They’ve also spurred creative thinking behind design and manufacturing for different industries such as plastic injection molding.

It’s not uncommon to find these machines being run unmanned, often with robotics woven into the overall process, enabling maximum throughput and efficiency.

Both plasma cutting and CNC machining have very similar procedures and workflows from an automation perspective, which has allowed manufacturing innovators to grow these two industrial technologies off of one another.

Overlaps in Technical Capabilities

There has usually been a clear, distinct gap between what a CNC machine tool is capable of, and what a CNC plasma machine is fit to handle.

For the large majority of jobs, a plasma cutter will be best suited for sheet metal, and cutting or profiling other sorts of thin material. And a CNC milling or turning machine can handle large blocks of raw material at a time, in three dimensions.

Because of this clear gap in what each machine can take on, the technologies have been able to grow in parallel, rather than competing against one another.

Difference in Material Machinability

With plasma cutting, the maximum temperature attained by the plasma is often limited by the materials it is cutting.

The same limitation is typically not present with CNC machining, which can cut through most materials regardless of their hardness and rigidity.

Because of this, there is often another distinct difference between the materials each particular machine can take on. Thankfully, as plasma and machine tools or cutting inserts have dramatically improved and have seen a reduction in cost, these types of equipment have widened the range of materials they can tackle.

2D versus 3D

Plasma cutting is largely a 2D manufacturing process for designers to create an object from a DXF, AutoCAD, or other 2D CAD drawing.

Machining was once a 2D-only technology, but it has quickly morphed into a three-dimensional process, with modern machines having at least four axes to machine with. This helps to further differentiate the technologies, while still maintaining very similar nuts and bolts.

As an example, in the automotive industry plasma cutters will likely cut out the individual body panels for cars and trucks, while a CNC machine will be used to hog out a huge block of cast aluminum to manufacture engine blocks, crankcases, and other various internal combustion components.

Plasma cutting, water jetting, or CNC routing are all viable 2D methodologies for large-scale prototyping, especially for large, flat objects that are just in need of profiling.

Feeds & Speeds

Two of the biggest variables with any CNC metal cutting process come from:

  • How fast the material is being fed.

  • The speed of the cutter or tool used to remove material.

Again, the only difference between these two manufacturing processes is the method in which the metal workpiece is being removed. The general mechanisms that drive the tool, the control that’s running the software program, and everything in between is nearly the same.

Because of that, it also helps a CNC machinist to adopt plasma cutting easily, and vice versa. Nevertheless, this allows for continuous improvements and innovations to coexist between two seemingly similar metal removal or subtractive manufacturing processes.

Overall, production capacity in CNC will usually be much larger than with plasma cutting. The widespread adoption of CNC machining has led to extremely fast and precise machines that can hold tighter tolerances, be automated almost entirely, and serve as a great means toward high volume, lot manufacturing.

Integration to Robotics

Being that both industrial technologies are computer-controlled, it makes synchronizing with robotics and other forms of automation fairly easy.

With plasma cutting, there will often be links to bending, pressing, punching, and shearing machines to automate the process of taking raw sheet metal and turning it into an end product. For CNC machining, it’s common to find pallet changing systems and robotic arms to help achieve fully automated, lights-out manufacturing, which turns out machined components 24 hours a day.

In the past decade, scaled cost of electronics, software enhancements, programmability, and general ease of use has created a perfect marriage between robotics and the CNC machining industry, which continues to allow manufacturers to do more with less.

Similar Components, Accelerated Innovation

While the subtractive manufacturing techniques and processes are worlds apart, the basic components like software and hardware that drive CNC machining and plasma cutting are almost identical. This immense amount of transferability has enabled the development of automation equipment behind the scenes to rapidly advance overtime.

What was once NC machining became CNC as both software and hardware began to evolve, especially within the metalworking industry. CAM software packages became much more robust as well, allowing programmers, manufacturing engineers, and CAD designers to understand the manufacturability of their concept or idea before actually manufacturing it.

Ultimately, these machines are all driving a tool in a similar 2D manner—the servo systems, linear actuators, and other components doing the hard work are virtually the same in each machining methodology.

So as you can see, while the two technologies are very different in their own respects, the basic automation fundamentals for CNC and plasma cutting remain the same.

Both have made tremendous adjacent innovation strides since inception many decades ago, and continue to serve as a useful means toward scaled, high-volume manufacturing production for a variety of materials, in both 2D and 3D patterns for nearly infinite applications within a variety of industries.

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