How industrial-scale additive manufacturing may be right for your business?

News from the 3D printing industry | 12 November 2021

Dean Haehnel, a member of the Siemens PLM Thought Leadership team, recently interviewed Robert Meshel, Siemens Director of the Additive Manufacturing Network Initiative. They focused on the concept of industrial-scale additive manufacturing (ISAM). By reading this article, you will learn more about their insights about ISAM and how it could transform your business. 

Industrial-Scale Additive Manufacturing, from prototyping into real parts

The additive manufacturing market is often used for rapid prototyping. The additive manufacturing market is still expected to grow by 25% and estimated to go up to $7 billion according to Robert Meshel. Prototyping is no longer sufficient, and additive manufacturing must go further because its significant promise will reside in ISAM and in a completely repeatable and reliable set of processes.

Companies such as Siemens, GE Aviation or BMW are investing a lot in this technology. However, even if there are lots of high qualitative experimental projects led by a large company, which understands the full potential of Additive Manufacturing, sometimes the knowledge does not fully exist yet in the market.

Up to 50%

of the overall balances of maintenance company can be dedicated to the costs to produce and store spare parts in warehouses.

Industrial-Scale Additive Manufacturing, an entirely new business model

After integrating Additive Manufacturing, the business process of a company will certainly be quite different because the products and the process have been modified. It can be quite complicated for a company to change what is known and move to the next level.

Additive Manufacturing can redefine your business model for various reasons. Firstly, the parts produced with Additive Manufacturing are going to look quite different from those fabricated with traditional methods. Additive manufacturing builds part layer by layer and you will have the possibility of creating parts that are lighter, more complex,and  more customized. Because the execution process is quite different, it requires more effort and a good understanding of how to design and what kinds of materials you should use. Secondly, a company that wants to take part in industry 4.0 needs to “engage with new vendors, new partners, upgraded vendors” and other, suggested by Robert Meshel. Supporting Additive Manufacturing in your company can be exhausting at first but once you manage these sets of capabilities and reach the high-standard that customers expect, the full benefits of Additive Manufacturing will be released.

Industrial-Scale Additive Manufacturing, a full set of opportunities and benefits

As it is a relatively new industry and materials are still expensive, Additive Manufacturing seems to be a heavy investment; however, it certainly brings a lot of benefits to the company.

Moving to a fully digital world of Additive Manufacturing allows companies to produce parts or products on-demand and can dramatically reduce the costs to produce and store parts in warehouses, which can account for 40 to 50 percent of the overall balances of the company. Thus, instead of a warehouse, the design is stored in a database and shipped digitally to be produced upon consumption, reducing your physical inventory to zero, which is an enormous benefit for manufacturers.

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Industrial-Scale Additive Manufacturing, on its way to achieve industry-scale levels of production

For additive manufacturing to produce at an industrial scale, there are a few things to be accomplished. Firstly, the range of available materials for additive manufacturing needs to grow to meet various demands of customers. Secondly, the quality of parts produced by additive manufacturing needs to improve, and this refers to building repeatable processes. A significant amount of printing is failing and this needs to be replaced and redone. This is unacceptable with industrial-scale additive manufacturing. Moreover, manufacturers’ understandings of additive manufacturing still can be improved to quickly collect the relevant information and process it. These are some challenges that are commonly found in emerging industries. Reaching these objectives will result in a reduction in the cost structure.

“This is a new technology and industry. If we look back and try to compare to other past emerging technologies, I think this has the real potential to become an exponential technology.”

Robert MeshelSiemens Director of the Additive Manufacturing Network Initiative

Industrial-Scale Additive Manufacturing, an Investissement for the future

According to Robert Meshel, Additive Manufacturing has the potential to become an essential technology in the future and will grow exponentially. Although the additive manufacturing industry has started quite well, there may be disappointments with this seemingly slow progress. However, there will be a point where the use of this technology will totally increase. The technology is still under development, but it is certain that it may soon be integrated into all manufacturing processes!