Meet Paul Tickle, our SLM Solutions product specialist
With a background in engineering, Paul Tickle is a key member of the Laser Lines metal 3D printing team, an area that is set to grow dramatically over the next five years. Let’s find out more about him:
Tell us more about your role
“I am the go-to person for any businesses that are interested in investing in SLM Solutions machines.
“SLM Solutions is the market-leader when it comes to the metals side of the 3D printing industry, offering a comprehensive range of products that I have been involved with for a number of years.”
What are the key challenges you face?
“When it comes to metal 3D printing, the biggest challenge is switching people on to what can be achieved with the technology. Sectors such as aerospace, automotive and medical are relatively advanced in their use of metal 3D printing, with 3D printed parts appearing on board aircraft engines, for example. We now need to expand this across other business sectors.
“As more industries recognise the benefits that can be realised with SLM technology, metal 3D printing will become much more commonplace. The time, cost and efficiency savings, as well as the freedom from design constraints are incredible.
“SLM Solutions machines are the class leaders with multi laser technology and bigger build envelopes. Parts which can take weeks using traditional methods can be produced within hours using an SLM Solutions system. The challenge is convincing the customer to adopt the technology.
“The recent announcement that GE is to acquire SLM Solutions is a massive vote of faith in metal-based additive manufacturing, and in the machines I sell in particular. With a company like GE behind us, it’s going to be a lot easier to convince people of the benefits of the technology.”
How does metal compare to plastic 3D printing?
“The two processes are very similar. Both technologies require a 3D CAD file which is subsequently divided into 2D layers by the system software. The part is then produced layer by layer.
“With metal printing it is possible to produce complicated intricate structures, reducing cost, product weight, and material waste. Structures which cannot be produced using traditional manufacturing methods can only be realised with 3D metal printing.
“Part of my job is helping potential customers realise the benefits and to future-proof their investments. With the technology developing at such an astounding rate, I need to make sure that our customers choose not only the right solution to suit their current business, but that they invest in a solution that they can develop to meet the future business needs.”
What do you think the future holds for metal 3D printing?
“With further realisation of Industry 4.0 and the ‘smart factory’, 3D printing will see further advancements. The technology is moving at a rapid pace with new materials and techniques being announced almost daily.
“Today it is possible to print using a variety of techniques and a variety of metals. A key component in making Industry 4.0 a reality are machines that can produce larger components faster, more flexibly and precisely than ever before. SLM Solutions is leading the way with larger build envelopes and multi laser technology to produce parts leading to faster build times.
“To maximise these benefits, companies are realising the need to understand where to apply the technology along both the supply and value chains. Having an additive manufacturing strategy is no longer just nice to have, it is a necessity.
“Without a doubt, this will be a real game changer and I am delighted to be part of such a dynamic industry at such an exciting time.”