How Jabil's MPM Supercharge Additive Manufacturing

FDM 3D-printer manufacturing spur gears from silver-gray filament on blue print tape - top view on object, print bed and print head - matte look - foreground blanked out blurry

As additive manufacturing continues to be adopted across various companies and new technologies are released, an established roadmap is essential to ensure uniformity and performance for industrial users. From prototype to production parts, we rely on a comprehensive approach that considers the critical components necessary to maximize quality and efficiency for our customers: Materials, Processes, and Machines (MPM). We align materials with customers’ requirements, apply strict manufacturing rigor, and utilize a broad scope of additive technologies to ensure parts perform as expected.

Why is our MPM process a more industrial way to think about additive manufacturing?

Materials

Jabil can align materials to meet your requirements, and work with you to validate how they are applied for specific industries and applications. Every material—from filaments to powders whether it be polymer or metal—has a wide range of properties to meet your demands. Our material experts understand which materials will meet the product requirements as well as maintain industry certifications.

When it comes to additive manufactured materials, they perform best when they are made with applications in mind. Many of the polymers used in volume for injection molding were formulated to work well for that manufacturing process (for example: flow, mold release, shrinkage) and then for the more important mechanical properties such as tensile or impact strength. For additive, materials are formulated in a similar manner—process then function.

The capability of using more than one additive material in printing parts—creates a tremendous advantage over traditional manufacturing methods. It’s especially helpful when designing prototype parts that will transition to full-scale production. Different colored and textured materials can be used to create products and enable companies to more rapidly define the assembly, viability, and even durability of their final products. And as the technology continues to mature and scale, the portfolio of materials will continue to grow, expanding to better match the functional needs of designers, engineers, regulators and ultimately end-users.

Processes

Jabil brings deep expertise around proven manufacturing techniques to ensure that parts perform according to expectation. This includes the end-to-end processes of design, validation, production and certification. Throughout the manufacturing process, each stage is validated to certify the additive manufactured parts meet durability and performance requirements.

We have expanded our investment over the past few years as additive technologies are reaching economics that are appropriate for a widening set of applications across the production spectrum. Additive manufacturing is being used to produce parts where the volumes are too small to justify the tooling and process associated with traditional techniques such as injection molding.

Freedom of design should also be considered when thinking about additive manufacturing. The materials used in this process enable designs that are free from the rules of traditional manufacturing methods. Draft angles are no longer a consideration and much greater complexity in part design can be achieved within one print build with no assembly required.

The best part is that added complexity in design comes at no additional cost, as there is no need for additional tooling, re-fixturing, increased operator expertise, or even fabrication time. Additive manufacturing processes enable the production of geometric shapes that would otherwise require assembly of multiple parts or numerous manufacturing steps. When designers think of the product holistically instead of just one part at a time, costs can be saved while making the overall product more effective and efficient.

Machines

Using a wide range of additive technologies and machines, we help find the best solution to achieve your desired outcome. Before production begins, we test and qualify machines to ensure part quality, consistency and cost. Each machine and material combination are validated. The Jabil Additive team draws upon experts with decades of experience to provide recommendations on what machine, material, and process should be used in manufacturing their part with additive manufacturing methods.

We partner with leading additive OEMs, such as HP, EOS and Ultimaker and are constantly working with new potential partners to evaluate when technologies are ready–both economically and technically–to support manufacturing operations.

At Jabil we are very discerning in how we vet suppliers for technological capability and how well they are positioned to support our distributed manufacturing strategy. Only a few high-performance additive platforms have met these strict requirements and made their way to our manufacturing floors. One example is HP’s MJF printing technology. This platform has improved economics by a factor of 10, which enables the production of tens of thousands of parts more economically than creating a tool and producing the parts on injection molding machines. Jabil engineers spent nearly a year working with HP to ensure that the platform was capable of producing parts with acceptable levels of performance and consistency from one batch to another as well as from one machine to the next. These activities represent another critical step in driving the future of additive manufacturing.

These hard numbers are just one example of materials process and machinery all working in concert to ensure your parts are delivered with the performance you both expect and demand.

Contact us to learn more about how we can work together to ensure you’re benefiting from the strength of additive manufacturing.