Additive manufacturing (AM) is one of the so-called Industry 4.0 technologies with the potential to transform industry. In addition to saving costs and reducing waste, AM allows rapid prototyping, immediate implementation of design changes and the ability to produce a wider range of shapes than before. Thanks to its wide-ranging industrial experience, RINA has long recognised the benefits of this technology and has the ability to manage the entire AM value chain, from the raw materials (powders) to the end products and components.
Since AM is a relatively new process, standardisation is still ongoing. Several organisations, including ASTM, AWS and ISO, are busy defining and adopting guidelines and recommendations. However, the market need for qualification and certification is undeniable, in particular when “fitness for purpose” is required.
To meet this need, RINA has defined a "Guideline for the certification of metallic parts made by additive manufacturing (AM)". This describes the process to obtain the certification of components made by AM, following a systematic approach through the different stages of design and production. The purpose is to support the use of AM technologies as an alternative manufacturing method. It will also provide industry with a guideline for the certification of parts, components and products made by AM processes.
A major differentiator of RINA’s new AM guideline is its comprehensive approach. Rather than focusing on a particular market, such as shipping or steel products, it can be applied wherever additive technology is used to create metal components. This means that one guideline can be used for AM processes in any sector, from energy to coal and steel, from consumer goods to transport. Two RINA Business Units led the project to develop the guideline: the Industry New Manufacturing Technologies Unit and Certification Compliance & Process Improvement Unit. By working together, they combined technological know-how with RINA’s consolidated certification approach.
RINA’s new AM certification guideline highlights an important aspect of Industry 4.0. Manufacturing is continuously evolving and technological innovations seem to appear every other day. The main topics are on everyone’s lips: Internet of Things, machine-to-machine, cloud computing, big data, augmented reality, data analytics, smart sensors, blockchain, robotics, man-machine interaction… However, all industries need reliable standards and guidelines developed by experts to ensure that these technologies fulfil their potential and develop into a stable, harmonious and transparent manufacturing ecosystem.
Innovation is fundamental for accelerating the process of modernisation that will eventually lead to the “smart factory” of the future. RINA is deeply involved in this innovation process, evaluating new technologies on the basis of solid experience gained through collaboration with important players in the coal, steel and other industries. The "Guideline for the certification of metallic parts made by additive manufacturing (AM)" is one small but important step along the way.