Skip to content
InTechnology Podcast

#16 – What That Means with Camille: 3D Printing, Additive Manufacturing, Distributed Manufacturing

In this episode of What That Means, Camille gets into the current uses and future possibilities of 3D printing — plus, what security might look like — with Dr. Irene Petrick, Senior Director of Industrial Innovation in the Internet of Things group at Intel.

The discussion covers things like:

• Where 3D printing is being used and what materials are used

• The hallmarks of 3D printing

• What’s hindering 3D printing adoption

• How design approach has to change with 3D printing

• The role blockchain may play in ensuring security and quality in 3D printing

• The shift in tracking and liability required with 3D printing


And more. Check it out.


Here are some key take-aways:


• For the most part, 3D printing, additive manufacturing & distributed manufacturing are interchangeable terms — but audience matters.

• A major advantage of 3D printing is that it reduces waste and scrap. Rather than having to invest in large blocks of costly materials like titanium and then cutting away what’s not needed, you lay down, layer by layer, exactly what you do need.

• When doing 3D printing, you can’t simply reverse engineer a traditional part. You have to approach design from a different perspective.

• The dental and medical fields are currently making great use of 3D printing, printing things like teeth, joints, and more.

• 3D printing is not about large scale production, but rather about creating small, customized “products.”


Some interesting quotes from today’s episode:


The difference between a traditional manufacturing and production and 3D printing is I’m really reducing scrap because I’m not laying down material I don’t need.”

“The challenge becomes making sure that that layered by layered part has the same attributes as one where I’ve used subtractive manufacturing.”

“One of the things that’s hindering 3D printing adoption right now, is there aren’t enough engineers trained or designers trained to think about a different way of designing and a different way of using materials, to what’s called ‘functionally graded’.”

“3D printing isn’t ever going to be aimed at large-scale volumes.”

“I’m basically shipping digital files. And so tracking the provenance of those digital files is going to be a bit different.“

“What we’re talking about, ultimately in the industrial space, is a method of creating small numbers of parts that can be highly customized.”

Share on social:


Camille: [00:00:00] Welcome to What That Means: 3D Printing, Additive Manufacturing, and Distributed Manufacturing. Joining me today to define and discuss 3D printing, additive manufacturing and distributed manufacturing is Dr. Irene Petrick. Irene is a Senior Director of Industrial Innovation in the Internet of Things group at Intel. She focuses on the industrial internet of things, edge computing, the transition to intelligent manufacturing and the needs of the future workforce and new business models that it enables. She focuses on 3D printing and distributed manufacturing. Prior to joining Intel. Irene was a professor at Penn State and has been actively engaged with companies in their innovation and technology strategies for over 25 years, including work with 12 Fortune 100 companies, the U S military and a wide variety of small to medium-sized enterprises. She is author or co-author on more than 200 publications and presentations.
On a personal note, I had the pleasure of working with Irene a few years ago and watched her present to a room full of manufacturing executives who were riveted by her tutorial on distributed manufacturing–as was I–so very much looking forward to this conversation.
Welcome Irene.

Irene: Thank you very much, Camille.

Camille: Um, Irene, can we start off, uh, with the confusion at the title here, uh, 3D printing, additive manufacturing, distributed manufacturing. Can you define one or all of these in under three minutes? And then we’ll move on.

Irene: [00:01:34] Oh, let me see. Can I do it under three minutes? Well, don’t, don’t start the timer. Let me think a moment. Um, I can, let me, let me start with 3D printing is what the press lovingly refers to it. Additive manufacturing is what some of the researchers would refer to it and there are also some differences in terms of distributed production. So when you think about, uh, 3D printing, it’s almost always focused from a polymer perspective, which was usually associated. Additive manufacturing has usually been focused around ceramics or around metals.
Um, more recently 3D printing gets talked about when we start talking about organics like 3D printed foods. So there are They’re interchangeable, but depending on what audience you’re speaking to, they would have some different perception of what it really started with in terms of the meaning.
From a distributed production perspective what we’re really talking about almost like a traditional supply chain, uh, where different pieces of the, uh, assembly come together from different vendors. 3D printing or additive manufacturing in a distributed view means that I’m thinking about different ways of designing something. I’m using crowdsourcing or I’m using, uh, some kind of web interface to design. Uh, and I’m then having to parse that design across the design rules, across the printer rules across the material rules. So there are a lot of aspects to distributed production in the 3D additive environment, um, that that really have to come together to actually create a production-ready part.

Camille: [00:03:22] So would it be fair to say that 3D printing and additive manufacturing while not the only forms of distributed manufacturing, fall under that kind of umbrella?

Irene: [00:03:35] They do. Um, but distributed manufacturing– unlike a supply chain, distributed manufacturing is more around the collaboration between the supply chain partners between the network of producers. I think that’s what differentiates us more than anything else.

Camille: [00:03:53] Okay, so they are distinct terms then. They don’t fold under one another necessarily.

Irene: [00:03:58] They don’t. In some minds, they probably do right now because the supply chain is distributed manufacturing, but at the heart of it, I think that the level of exchange of data and the level of exchange of responsibilities in a collaborative manner is what will differentiate them in the future.

Camille: [00:04:16] Okay. Thank you for those definitions and clarifying the differences. Uh, now let’s dive a little deeper.

I’ve got to start with food because I was not aware that I could be eating printed food. So can you please explain what’s happening in that world?

Irene: [00:04:33] It’s very nascent it’s, um, sort of exciting. Um, if you think about what it takes, let’s take a steak, for example. Is think of what it takes to bring a steak to market. It takes a lot of growing of grains and food for the cow. It takes a lot of processing of that meat, and then it takes delivery of that meat. It’s very heavy in sustainability issues right now.
So if you think about 3D printing, if I can get flavors right, I could lay down layer by layer a steak. And, and actually it’s being done in the lab. It’s being done in some places. Now the steak is we know it right now and the steak is it would be printed or a little different, but as the technology gets better, they’re going to get closer and closer to the same texture in our mouth, the same tastes in our mouth, um, and without a lot of the sustainability issues.

Camille: [00:05:31] Okay. W- wwwait back up, what’s it made out? Obviously not metals.

Irene: [00:05:37] So it’s made out of organic materials.

Camille: [00:05:37] Like soy or, uh, actual meat proteins.

Irene: [00:05:43] Most of it’s non-meat, that’s grown within a lab. So I start with some cells. But, but that’s, that’s just one example. I can 3D print a lot. I Can 3D print pizzas, for example. So there are a lot of examples of, of how this goes. And the interesting piece is that unlike a steak, which is a single kind of material, a pizza would be very different kinds of materials and that’s something that 3D printing lends itself to is laying down in a layer, different kinds of materials, depending on what’s needed. So there are a lot of things that are coming, that aren’t quite production ready yet, but they’re coming.

Camille: [00:06:23] So one other thing on that, and I know we’ve got lots more to talk about, but I’m stuck on the cow for a moment. (Irene laughs) The other possible benefit with that is that you don’t have as much waste, right? I mean, aside from moral, ethical and sustainable issues, um, you’re not going to print the parts of a cow that you’re not using. You would only be printing what would be consumed. And I assume that that would expand beyond organic or foods, but any kind of—

Irene: [00:06:52] I was just going to say, that’s, that’s actually a hallmark of 3D printing in general–and let’s just lump additive in 3D, let’s just lump it into one, one term. We’ll call it 3D printing for this, this particular, uh, podcast.
When we think about 3D printing, there, there are two ways of making things in general. Either I take a large block of something and I strip out what I don’t need and maybe I can use some of that, maybe I can’t. Or I take layer-by-layer creation of exactly what I do need. That’s really the difference between a traditional manufacturing and production and 3D printing is I’m really reducing scrap because I’m not laying down material I don’t need. The only difference there is if I making an overhang.
So think about an L shape that starts as a small base and goes up and then turns to the left or to the right in an L. I have to produce an overhang for that upper bar, that upper bar, that’s the only part of 3D printing that I have to put in that I wouldn’t use. So there’s a tremendous difference in waste and scrap.

Camille: [00:08:08] What kinds of materials are we using for? It sounds like I would use it for precious materials because I wouldn’t want to have to waste.

Irene: [00:08:14] Oh, certainly. Certainly. So, in fact, in aerospace, they have a term called the, uh, the “buy to fly ratio.” So in aerospace, when I use traditional manufacturing, I have to buy very large pieces or blocks or cylinders of very expensive materials–titanium, and other things. And I have to machine away what I don’t want. Which means I have to buy a very expensive piece and get rid of more than half of it probably. It’s been a very, very strong, um, emerging part of the specialized components of aerospace kinds of, uh, pieces, because I don’t have to buy that big, expensive thing and get rid of stuff. I can lay it down layer by layer. Um, the challenge becomes making sure that that layered by layered part has the same attributes as one where I’ve used subtractive manufacturing.

Camille: [00:09:10] Okay. So you have to run if you’re, if you’re going to switch to 3D printing and you have all of the benefits now of– especially when you, when you’re talking aerospace, we’re not producing volumes and volumes of rocket ships, right? so we, we really just kind of need very small batch here, but you want to make sure it’s w it withstands the same kind of pressures and environments that you’re used to flying in.

Irene: [00:09:37] So the interesting piece of this. One of the things that doesn’t get talked about enough is that when I’m doing 3D printing, I really have to approach design from a very different perspective. I can’t just reverse engineer a traditional part and and think about it the same way.
So in a traditional assembly, for example, I might have 20 or 30 pieces that have to come together. If I think about 3D printing–and this is the other place we reduced scrap–if I think about 3D printing that same assembly, I can reduce it to one or four or maybe 10 parts because I’m thinking about design in a completely different way. One of the things that’s sort of hindering 3D printing adoption right now, is there aren’t enough engineers trained or designers trained to think about a different way of designing and a different way of using materials, uh, to what’s called “functionally graded.”
In other words, I need, if I’m making a part, I might need something that’s very, very safe strong at the edge and into, in toward the center is much more, uh, able to, uh, do some kind of baffling or noise reduction or heating and cooling. So I can design things in completely different ways, but there still aren’t enough engineers who are really good at that. They’re growing in numbers.
Camille: [00:10:59] So, so you’re talking about people who are designing, um, there’s sort of the concept of a we’ll call it a product, um, and then what other kinds of elements are going into that? You have to decide what material to use. You have to look at its structure. What, what are all the different types of people that might be involved in this?

Irene: [00:11:20] So think about this triumvirate. It’s really the design, the material and the printer that have to come together and I have to understand those. And so up until recently, uh, and even in some cases, it still is it’s as much an art as it is a science.
So if I think about taking a casting, which is one of the most common things. I take a casting and I machine it down. I casting is a single combination of materials. If it’s an alloy or a single material. Um, and I can, I can treat it as one. If I think about 3D printing and I can think about layer by layer and, and really, um, I can think about that energy source going across that layer to create the shape, then I can think about a different way of manufacturing have

Camille: [00:12:14] You can have a different core or different center.

Irene: [00:12:17] Exactly, exactly. And like I could make, I could make a hole within something. And the most interesting one to me is, is some of these heating and cooling chambers. Um, we spend a lot of time trying to create heating and cooling chambers that can be filled with liquid or air or, or, or whatever. Um, but it’s very hard to make these, um, in, in larger footprints or in very small scales.
How do I create those little capillaries that are going to create a heat transfer, for example? 3D printing is a perfect example of how that can be done, if I understand the interaction of materials, if I understand how to produce those holes throughout –it’s called “planned porosity.” Um, so the Holy Grail with casting is to get rid of all porosity. And then to machine and drill holes to create them. And in 3D printing, I can build up in a single setup that won’t require a tremendous amount of, uh post-process.

Camille: [00:13:21] So the other thing that I’m sensing is you’re talking very specialized fields. Um, and so I assume, you know, that probably organizations and hiring and stuff could change, but separate from that, how are we keeping all of these files secure if you’ve got somebody doing the thermal assessment and somebody else is doing the material and someone’s doing the design and someone’s actually receiving the file and printing it?

Irene: [00:13:47] So Camille, let me, let me put on my Irene Petrick hat and not my Intel hat for a moment and tell you how I think that’s going to come out. Um, cause I’ve been working in this, in this area for almost a decade. Now we’re going to have to have parts that are qualified based upon what the settings were for the printer, what the design parameters were, what the materials were included and how each layer was laid down even in terms of doing a quality assessment through some kind of visual or camera or something at each layer. And that’s going to become the part certification. Right now when we do a subtractive manufacturing, most of what we do to ensure quality or not so much security, but quality at least is how do I do destructive testing on large-scale volumes? Well, 3D printing isn’t ever going to be aimed at large-scale volumes.
So when you think about combining quality and security, they’re going to come together in what I would consider some kind of a blockchain, almost Camille. To how do I track w. What, what files were downloaded for design, who contributed to them? How do I assess what materials were used from what batches? And then how do I assess what was, what was used as the energy source and what the parameter settings were for each layer? Those are all going to have to come together. So security and quality in this environment are going to sort of be captured simultaneously, I believe.

Camille: [00:15:14] Yeah and very important too, because I suppose if there were a failure, you would want to be able to trace it back and you can’t just trace it back to the brand of the manufacturer anymore. You’ve got to say, well, was it the thermal dynamics engineer that caused this problem? Or was it the actual metal that was laid down that maybe was counterfeit or something?

Irene: [00:15:38] I think you’ve got it exactly right. Camille, that, because when you think about it, our case law is based upon traditional ways of making things. So, you know, who made the material? Who, who did the casting. How was it shipped? How was it stored? You know, a lot of those things we’ve been tracking, we know all about that. But when you think about this, I’m basically shipping digital files. And so tracking the provenance of those digital files is going to be a bit different.
And so insurance companies are going to say, “well, who really liable if you made this part? Was it the printer? Was it the intricacies of the process that laid down that material and put the beam or laser through it. Was it the designer who really made a mistake?” So, so we’re going to have to track those much differently than we have in the past. And we’re going to have to have them unique for each part that’s produced.

Camille: [00:16:33] how, how real is this right now? Are things actually being made? Are we just talking about research and laboratories?

Irene: [00:16:40] Certainly there are still things going on in research laboratories that are critical to the enablement of 3D printing. But, it’s already being used. In, in jet engines; it’s already being used at companies seeking to reduce the amount, the number of parts of assembly. We talked about, uh, food already. It’s already being used there. Um, the way you think about it as polymers, where the first place we really experienced 3D printing any major level. And so we’re more advanced in some
Camille: [00:17:12] What is a polymer? Is that plastic?
Irene: [00:17:13] Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And metals and the environment to lay down a polymer. Is much easier than the environment required to lay down metal. Metal requires vacuum chambers and other things that become really important. So it’s, it’s taken longer to catch on in terms of quality and guaranteeing quality in the metals area than it did in polymers.
We’ve been seeing 3D printed polymers for I wouldn’t say a decade, but, but hobbyists have been doing it for quite a while. It’s in production. We see dental– in fact, dental is one of the places where we’re 3D printing has really taken a major lead because I can take digital pictures of your mouth. And I can create digital pictures of the tooth required and the spacing and all of those measures. And I can build it layer by layer. And so dental is one of the places that this has really taken off.
Uh, another example, which would not be the same materials would be, um, inserts for knees or other kinds of surgery, uh, where I have I’m using titanium or other specialized materials to create parts that are exactly the shape and size with all the tolerances that your specific body needs.
So there are spaces where it’s in production being used now. Um, once again, what we’re talking about, ultimately in the industrial space, is method of creating small numbers of parts that can be highly customized. Uh, and so it’s, it’s very different than the economies of scale production we’ve seen in the past.

Camille: [00:18:56] So you’re talking about, um, the ability to produce or manufacture food and, and also joints, teeth, things that go in our inside of our bodies. I have to ask you is, um, will we be 3D printing vaccines?

Irene: [00:19:10] Uh, boy, that’s a tough one. That’s a really important one. I don’t know about vaccines. I know there’ve been some really exciting developments around AI and vaccines and protein folding, and some of that that have just come out. Uh, but I don’t know the extent to which that would rely on 3D printing technologies or not.

Camille: [00:19:31] Okay, fabulous. We’ve we’ve got a rapid, I, I have, you know, a hundred more questions, but, uh, I think this is really good, fascinating topic, and you’ve given us such a good intro to it. So thank you very much.

Irene: Thanks for having me Camille.

Camille: So thanks everybody for listening today. And I read mentioned blockchain and we do actually have, uh, an episode, uh, on what that means with Mick Bowman on blockchain. We also have another interview. From a professor at Penn state named Tim Simpson, who is going to specifically speak about 3D printing and additive manufacturing his specialty. So tune into other episodes in Cyber Security Inside to hear even more about these interesting topics.

More From