New to AM
Transforming Your Manufacturing Floors with Additive Innovation

MARCH 25, 2023 | Reading time: 5 min

Taking the leap into additive manufacturing (AM) integration is not merely a change in technology; it's a transformation that necessitates meticulous planning and deliberate strategic thinking; it's a comprehensive shift in your manufacturing paradigm that allows your engineering and product design teams  to reimagine how they design, create, and deliver products.

Our team here at EOS is ready to guide you through the key considerations in this transformative journey.

Conduct a Current State Assessment

A thorough current state assessment serves as the bedrock upon which your AM implementation plan is built, shedding light on your organization's strengths and identifying areas that can benefit from AM integration.

By closely examining your existing machinery and shop floor capabilties, you can pinpoint which components may need upgrading or adaptation to align with AM requirements. Furthermore, assessing the skills within your workforce allows you to identify potential gaps that require targeted training and development initiatives. This may involve assessing their familiarity with industrial 3D printing technology, understanding of the specific AM equipment you've chosen, and proficiency in the associated software and processes.

Budgeting and Resource Allocation

It's essential to assess the costs associated with the procurement of 3D printers, materials, and any additional hardware or software components required for your specific applications. This upfront investment lays the foundation for your AM capabilities and is crucial for realizing the benefits of this technology.

However, the financial commitment extends beyond equipment acquisition. Training your workforce involves not only the cost of training programs but also the potential downtime during the training period.

Our team highly recommends beginning training immediately after making the decision to invest in AM. Although an AM system may not be installed on your shop floor yet, there are many learning modules available both online and in person that can help with upskilling your engineering team. Skilled operators are the linchpin of successful AM integration, and investing in their development is a strategic decision.


Space Planning and Layout Design

Designing a space that optimally accommodates AM processes is a pivotal aspect of your integration journey. It's about creating an environment that not only fosters efficiency but also prioritizes safety and accessibility.

In this phase, careful consideration is given to the layout of your manufacturing floor. It involves envisioning how AM equipment, such as 3D printers, post-processing stations, and material storage, will be seamlessly integrated into the existing workspace. Adequate enclosed and secure space allocation is essential for safe and productive AM operations. Ensuring that there is ample room for equipment movement, maintenance, and human interaction is crucial. Each piece of equipment should have a designated location that allows for easy access and efficient workflow transitions.

Ventilation and  direct lines for gas and electricity are other critical needs for consideration. AM processes can involve the emission of fumes or particles, depending on the materials used, as well as operation with nitrogen or argon gases. Implementing proper ventilation systems helps maintain air quality and ensures a safe working environment for your team.

Select Appropriate AM Equipment

When choosing AM equipment, it's essential to align your selection with your specific current and future production needs.

The size of your AM system, its laser power, and the materials it can handle are all crucial factors that determine its capabilities. Different AM systems come with varying levels of laser power, build plate size, speed, and material compatibility. To choose the right system for your projects, consider their specific requirements and select the one that not only meets your current needs but can also grow with your production requirements. Whether you prioritize intricate detailing, rapid production, or the ability to work with specific materials, the right 3D printer can unlock your desired outcomes.

Material selection is equally vital. The materials you choose are the building blocks of your AM creations. They impact not only the structural integrity of your components but also their functional properties, appearance, and cost-effectiveness. Carefully evaluate material properties such as strength, durability, flexibility, and thermal resistance, ensuring they align with the demands of your applications.

Additionally, developing and implementing robust quality control processes guarantees that your AM components meet the highest standards of precision, safety, and reliability. This commitment to quality not only safeguards your reputation but also positions your organization as a leader in the ever-evolving landscape of modern manufacturing.

Supply Chain Integration

Inventory management takes on new significance in the context of AM. With on-demand production capabilities, you can minimize the need for extensive warehousing and storage of finished goods. Instead, an optimized supply chain ensures that materials are procured as needed, reducing overhead costs associated with excess inventory.

Collaboration with AM suppliers is a key element of supply chain integration. Building strong partnerships with suppliers who specialize in AM materials, services, or components can yield numerous benefits. They can offer expertise, assist with materials selection, and provide valuable insights into AM best practices. These partnerships create a symbiotic relationship where both parties contribute to the success of AM integration.

Cybersecurity and Data Management

With the digital nature of AM, safeguarding your assets against cyber threats is imperative. Intellectual property theft, data breaches, and unauthorized access can have severe repercussions. To mitigate these risks, establish robust cybersecurity measures. This includes firewalls, intrusion detection systems, access controls, and encryption protocols to protect your digital assets. Regular audits and vulnerability assessments should be conducted to identify and rectify potential weaknesses.

Data management in AM involves not only securing your data but also maintaining its integrity throughout the design and manufacturing processes. Implementing version control, data encryption, and secure backups are essential practices. Additionally, educate your workforce on cybersecurity best practices to create a culture of awareness and vigilance.

Various industries, including aerospace and healthcare, also have stringent regulations and standards governing manufacturing processes. For organizations working with government-related application production, ITAR certification may be required. EOS offices throughout North America are ITAR compliant and our team of AM experts can offer guidance navigating this enhanced security regulation. Compliance is not just a legal requirement but also a commitment to safety and quality. Therefore, it's essential to ensure that your AM processes align with industry-specific regulations.

Final Thoughts

By taking a structured and comprehensive approach, you set the stage for a seamless adoption of AM, positioning your organization at the forefront of innovation and competitiveness. It's not just about embracing industrial 3D printing technology; it's about embracing the future of manufacturing itself.

Harnessing the full potential of AM is not just an option; it's a necessity for staying ahead in the rapidly changing world of manufacturing. EOS is here to support you on this transformative path, helping you redefine the future of your manufacturing operations.

Ready to embark on your journey towards additive manufacturing success?

Download our Facility Readiness eGuide or reach out to EOS and let's get started. Together, we'll write the blueprint for your future in manufacturing excellence.

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