The future of Additive Manufacturing in manufacturing industries
Additive Manufacturing is moving from its traditional application in the prototyping and design of new products to production. Its increasing use in manufacturing industries - which I call the industrialization of Additive Manufacturing - is fostered by various developments in technology, changing consumer behavior and new solutions managing the additive manufacturing ecosystem.
The various technology developments include:
1. Improved printer technology leading to a higher throughput of parts as well as better printing quality and reduced effort necessary for part handling and rework.
2. The use of “cheaper” desktop or benchtop printers, making Additive Manufacturing more affordable for smaller businesses as they adopt expensive industrial printers' functionalities.
3. The use of new materials such as high temperature resins in low pressure plastic moulding will increase Additive Manufacturing’s flexibility when it comes to the manufacture of tailored products
Apart from technology, the changes in business are also supporting the adoption of Additive Manufacturing on the shop floors. The individualization of consumption resulting in more individual products and smaller production quantities of the product is driving this trend.
Furthermore, more and more customers are requesting to get their spare parts on demand. That's for example the case for airline companies which prefer on demand spare parts instead of storing them in warehouses. They need to gain flexibility concerning their spare parts inventory, in order to drive down inventory and storage costs.
The MIT estimates a 90% decrease in inventory for the automotive industry if spare parts are printed on demand and onsite i.e. at the repair shops. For the automotive and aerospace OEMs this will significantly transform their business models, ie. selling the use of 3D models of the part instead of physical parts.
I have noticed that more and more customers are moving into this direction. Nevertheless, a major challenge remains to be solved in order to manage the required networks of 3D printing shops at OEMs, at subcontractors' and service partners' or their customers' sites.
The Additive Manufacturing network needs to be managed. A platform is needed to e.g. centrally manage 3D models, issue and monitor 3D printing orders or govern the process of on demand spare parts printing throughout the Additive Manufacturing network.
At Atos,we consider such a platform is essential to manage the network and therefore the spare parts business and the manufacturing of new parts involving several sites and partners.
Such Additive Manufacturing Platform must protect the OEM's IP regarding the 3D model of the spare part. This major challenge must be addresssed by using a Blockchain service to ensure the traceability of the part in scope.
Additive Manufacturing is moving from its traditional application in the prototyping and design of new products to production. This is fostered by technology development, the individualization of consumption and shorter product lifecycles as well as the possibility to manage complex additive manufacturing networks.
These developments will foster the industrialization of Additive Manufacturing for manufacturing companies not to forget the environmental benefits it carries: sustainability and energy conservation. Scrap is almost eliminated with Additive Manufacturing and according to the Metal powder Industries Federation in the US, it only takes 6 production steps to manufacture a truck gear instead of 17 steps using subtractive manufacturing.
For information about Atos Additive Manufacturing platform, please go here