10. June 2019 - Report

Key Elements to understand Additive Manufacturing

Blog Key Elements Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing is a rapid growing technology with over 25,2% CAGR for the last 27 years. Two important trends carried out this massive market growth. The first tendency is related to the continuous improvement in the machine capabilities, where the production rates increased significantly while at the same time the machine costs decreased substantially. This allowed the additive manufacturing products to expand to new more cost sensitive markets. The second and not less important drift is because the costumer is demanding more personalized products.

The implications of a mass personalized production?

This so-called mass personalization trend, which is happening across various industries, is pushing the traditional manufacturing techniques to its limits. Traditional manufacturing processes work in batches where each different product has a different machine and process calibration. If the batches are too small, then the advantages gained through economies of scales decrease, the production time goes up and so does the overall costs of the products. Overall, all traditional manufacturing processes are therefore subjected to a trade-off between productivity and flexibility.

To try to overcome this trade-off, companies are starting to make use of a wide variety of new techniques that allow them to produce more personalized products without substantially increasing their manufacturing costs. One of the promising techniques that should help manufactures to handle this new market environment is additive manufacturing.

What is additive manufacturing?

AM or 3D-Prinring is a very comprehensive term and refers to a production technology that simply works by printing, sintering or melting consecutive and overlapping layers. The initial stage of this technology dates back to the mid-1980s. Nevertheless, it took more than 20 years of technological development before the first industrial application became financially interesting and therefore comparable to the traditional procedures.

Understanding the additive manufacturing market

Various technologies can support this generative process, like fused deposition modelling (FMD), stereolithography (SLA), selective laser sintering (SLS), multi jet Modelling (MJM) and other similar procedures. Each technology has its own characteristics, limitations and advantages. This implies that each company has to evaluate for each case study, which generative process is the most adequate. To the current state of art, additive manufacturing is able to process many different types of materials like metals, alloys, polymers, papers, glasses and ceramics into complex structures with comparable material characteristics to the ones achieved by traditional manufacturing methods like drilling, turning or casting.

In the last years leading aircraft, dental and automotive manufacturers just as one of the most illustrated examples, have implemented under different conditions the additive manufacturing technology and achieved positive results. The aircraft industry focused for example in the light weight applications of additive manufacturing products and parts in order to decrease the planes overall fuel consumption. The dental manufactures on the other hand explored a different path for additive manufacturing applications and used the technology to produce personalized teeth. This new process allowed to the dental manufacturing industry to make dental prosthesis more available for the general consumer, since the traditional personalized mold casting procedure was significantly more expensive.

Due to the growing importance of additive manufacturing caused by the trend of mass personalization, expertpowerhouse has developed a network of top-tier experts around these topics, who are willing to support large corporations or SMEs in this area.

Sources

The Boston Consulting Group: https://www.bcg.com/publications/2017/retail-marketing-sales-profiting-personalization.aspx

Wohler’s Associates: https://wohlersassociates.com/press71.html

McKinsey & Company: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/are-you-ready-for-3-d-printing