In 2016, Austin Schmidt was five years into a career at Caterpillar. He had picked up some design engineering experience at the manufacturing giant, and was tasked with developing a 3D printed part for a new project. That’s when he saw BAAM (Big Area Additive Manufacturing) for the first time. The industrial sized additive machine is a CINCINNATI staple, and it instantly flipped on a light switch in Austin’s mind.
Soon after, he partnered with Andrew Bader and launched the world’s first contract manufacturer to offer large scale, 3D printed services. Additive Engineering Solutions (AES) is the first company in the world to offer these services, and they’re doing it thanks to the BAAM.
How AES uses the BAAM
Today, AES produces 3D printed parts for the aerospace, automotive, energy, marine industries and more. They use additive manufacturing to produce aerospace and marine tooling, plus some precast concrete applications and prototyping for the wind energy sector.
“We’re really just scratching the surface of what we can do,” said Bader. “Right now we have a focus on tooling and R&D, but in the future I see us using the BAAM and other machines to transition to a full-scale production shop.” There truly is a cost savings in utilizing 3D printed tooling and molds in the long run, plus faster turnarounds, and in more instances than not, a higher quality.
“Additive is not going away. We’ve already demonstrated value over traditional manufacturing methods, and when you save someone money and give them a better quality tool, they’re locked in.”
Why AES went with CI
As you may know if you’re familiar with CINCINNATI, BAAM was developed in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory. ORNL is at the forefront of industrial additive manufacturing, and we were thrilled at the chance to provide world-class additive work for the fabrication arena.
When AES was looking for a machine, BAAM was the first to market—and the only option. So they jumped on it and it’s been an open and collaborative process ever since. This technology is still in its infancy, so there weren’t comprehensive manuals or knowledge bases. The additive teams at CI and AES had to learn by doing and we continue to share information constantly.
“Communication is the big thing for us, and when we run into issues, I have the numbers of anyone I could possibly need to contact at CI,” said Schmidt. “They always answer the phone, they go the extra mile and they love to help.”
“The vision CINCINNATI had to partner with Oak Ridge and create this machine, I give them a ton of credit for that. They are innovating in their product offerings, and you don’t often see that in companies that are over a century old.”