Layered 3D printing processes are mirrored by Thermwood’s innovative CNC machining technique.

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Thermwood, the machine manufacturer, has recently unveiled its latest fabrication innovation, known as Cut Layer Additive (CLA). While CLA is fundamentally based on CNC machining, which is Thermwood’s specialty, it incorporates unique features that enable the production of stacks of material that can be assembled into a complete object, similar to those made through additive manufacturing (AM).

At the core of CLA lies its software, which harnesses the power of machine learning. The software has been trained to convert CAD data into individual layers that can be machined by the CLA system in a two-step process. In the initial step, the software takes a CAD file and defines the outer surface of the part to be made, a phase called “Send it to Shape.” In the second step, the machine operator selects the material, determines the wall thickness, specifies the amount of trim stock, and decides on the number of segments for each layer. This can be effortlessly accomplished through a user-friendly visual interface on the machine or a computer.

Subsequently, the CLA system machines each sheet of material into individual segments, which are marked with QR codes. These segments are then manually assembled, with the QR codes serving as guides for the connection process. The method of assembly depends on factors such as the material used and the intended application. Adhesive, dowels, or metal screws may be employed during the assembly process. Once assembled, the complete object is finished as required.

To facilitate the assembly process, the fabrication incorporates features like dowel alignment holes, insertion markers, and attachment holes for bolting metal layers. Additionally, the CLA system is being developed to include features such as internal passages for heating or cooling fluid and the ability to incorporate internal stiffening structures.

The CLA system boasts impressive capabilities, including an automatic tool changer with up to 12 tools, an 18 HP, 24,000 RPM router head for fast machining, and a 5’x12′ vacuum cutting table.

Thermwood has already showcased the power of CLA by producing various objects. For example, an aerospace layup tool made from epoxy-fused fiberboard with plural component urethane coating was manufactured using CLA in less time than it took to produce the same tool using their large-scale AM system. Additionally, a drone pattern was created using just $400 worth of materials, and a hollow aluminum aerospace trim fixture was also successfully fabricated.

While the CLA system represents a major breakthrough in fabrication technology, it is worth mentioning that laminated object manufacturing (LOM), a form of 3D printing that involves stacking sheets of material, is also gaining recognition. Companies like Impossible Objects and Alloy Enterprises are driving advancements in LOM, which allows for a wider range of feedstock options compared to other forms of 3D printing. However, the challenge with LOM is selectively removing excess material during the build process. CLA and Fabrisonic’s ultrasonic AM address this challenge through machining techniques.

Although Thermwood currently relies on manual assembly, automation of the assembly process is certainly a possibility. Imagining a scenario where industrial robotic arms handle the assembly is not far-fetched. Considering Thermwood’s successful pivot from traditional CNC manufacturing to large format material extrusion machines for additive manufacturing, such automation would not be surprising.

In the context of the Biden Administration’s efforts to re-shore manufacturing, established businesses like Thermwood are in an advantageous position to transition into digital production. These companies are already integrated into the defense supply chain, which aligns with the government’s goals. Therefore, it is highly likely that Thermwood could access government funds through various programs and initiatives, such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Defense Production Act, Made in America executive order, Inflation Reduction Act, CHIPS Program, and more.

Thermwood’s Cut Layer Additive technology has the potential to revolutionize fabrication processes, combining the precision of CNC machining with the versatility of additive manufacturing. As automation continues to advance and government support for domestic manufacturing grows, Thermwood and other similar companies are set to thrive in the emerging digital production landscape.

Unleashing America’s Manufacturing Potential: The Role of Thermwood in the Era of Industry 4.0###

The United States has always been at the forefront of technological innovation and industrial development. Over the years, numerous companies and industries have emerged, shaping the nation’s landscape. One such company that continues to make waves is Thermwood.

With the advent of the Biden Administration and the push for progressive policies, new opportunities have emerged for companies like Thermwood to lead the way in ushering in Industry 4.0. This next phase of industrial revolution is marked by the convergence of cutting-edge technologies, resulting in a smarter, more connected, and highly efficient manufacturing sector.

Thermwood, known for its heartland approach, has the potential to play a pivotal role in this transformative era. By embracing the latest advancements in 3D printing technology, the company is positioning itself as a trailblazer in the realm of additive manufacturing. Through their relentless pursuit of excellence, Thermwood is demonstrating how American ingenuity can drive progress and shape the future.

But what exactly is Industry 4.0? It is the integration of IoT (Internet of Things), AI (Artificial Intelligence), big data, and automation into manufacturing processes. This convergence enables unprecedented levels of productivity, flexibility, and customization, leading to a paradigm shift in the manufacturing landscape. With Thermwood’s commitment to innovation, they are perfectly positioned to thrive in this new industrial era.

With Industry 4.0, Thermwood can leverage 3D printing technology to revolutionize manufacturing processes across multiple sectors. The ability to create complex, precise, and customized products with ease opens up a world of possibilities. From aerospace components to medical devices, the applications of advanced additive manufacturing are limitless.

Furthermore, by adopting this technology, Thermwood can contribute to the revitalization of American manufacturing. By embracing automation and digitalization, the company can enhance productivity, reduce costs, and compete on a global scale. This not only creates new job opportunities but also strengthens the nation’s economy as a whole.

Thermwood’s dedication to staying up-to-date with the latest news and trends in the 3D printing industry showcases their commitment to progress. By actively engaging with third-party vendors and exploring new partnerships, they are able to stay at the forefront of technological advancement. This continuous pursuit of knowledge and collaboration will further enhance their capabilities in Industry 4.0 and ensure their relevance in the evolving manufacturing landscape.

As we move forward under the Biden Administration and beyond, the potential for growth and innovation in the manufacturing sector is immense. Companies like Thermwood are poised to lead the charge and demonstrate the power of American ingenuity. By embracing Industry 4.0 and leveraging advanced 3D printing technology, they are paving the way for a more prosperous and technologically advanced future.

In conclusion, Thermwood has the opportunity to shape the future of American manufacturing in the era of Industry 4.0. With their heartland approach and dedication to innovation, they are well-positioned to thrive in this transformative industrial revolution. By leveraging advanced 3D printing technology, Thermwood can bring about unprecedented levels of customization, productivity, and efficiency. This not only creates new job opportunities but also strengthens the nation’s economy. As we navigate through the Biden Administration and the exciting times ahead, let Thermwood serve as an inspiration for other companies to embrace the limitless potential of Industry 4.0.

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