US-based Cummins Inc
is finalising its first production part using a new, high-precision 3-D metal printing technology called binder jet. This marks a significant milestone in the company’s additive manufacturing (AM) and Industry 4.0 journey.
The part, a Cummins Emission Solutions (CES) lance tip adapter used in high horsepower engines, is now moving through Cummins’ production part approval process (PPAP) for formal approval. A critical emissions component in Cummins engines, it atomises and injects diesel exhaust fluid into the engine exhaust stream to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emitted from Cummins’ engine systems.
Tim Millwood, vice-president of global manufacturing, said: “This is incredibly exciting, as it signifies yet another significant milestone in our AM roadmap. We are on the cusp of being able to leverage a broad range of additive technologies to print the parts we need, using the right technology and at lower costs and increased speeds.”
Producing this part through AM provides several additional benefits, including a lighter-weight design, improved geometry for fluid and air flow, and the elimination of the added complexity of cross drillings. The company hopes to have final approval of the part and to start official production later this year.
In April 2019, Cummins announced its investment in binder jet technology, where a print head moves across a bed of powdered metal and selectively deposits a liquid binding agent in the shape of the part cross section, bonding these areas together to form a solid part one layer at a time. High-volume production
Depending on the complexity of the part, the technology can print 60 to 100 times faster than other laser-based printing processes, allowing high-volume production with this technology.
Binder jet technology also has environmental benefits. Unlike traditional machining, the binder jet printer can take nearly 100% of the leftover powder from the printed part, recirculate it through the system and reuse it in the production of other parts.
In 2020, Cummins established an Additive Manufacturing Lab within the company’s Manufacturing Engineering Development Center (MEDC) in Columbus, Indiana. The purpose of the lab is to develop and validate the industrialised binder jet additive manufacturing process. Cummins’ Engineering teams are taking this opportunity to gain experience and skillset in designing for AM as the technology advances.
Currently, the Cummins AM and engineering teams are working on designing and printing several additional concept parts, with the hopes of finalising more parts yet this year. Cummins currently has two second-generation binder jet printers, one at its Additive Manufacturing Lab in Columbus, Indiana and one at GE Additive’s Disruptive Innovation Lab near Cincinnati, Ohio.
Cummins and GE Additive are actively partnering to develop third-generation binder jet technology, which will support an industrialised solution with even higher throughput, improved quality and lower cost.
Jacob Brunsberg, GE Additive Binder Jet product line leader, said: “This is the first of many milestones. The focus of our partnership is to productionise applications at cost, quality and needed scale. We are proud to work with Cummins to develop additive technology and provide meaningful return on investment throughout its supply chains.”