The manufacturing industry must constantly evolve to keep up with the advancements of the 21st century, not to mention the expectations of consumers. While traditional manufacturing techniques have served businesses well for a long time, it’s only by embracing the latest innovations that the industry will continue to grow and adapt to fit with the modern landscape. Additive manufacturing is one of the major new instigators for the transformation of traditional manufacturing and the creation of factories of the future. By complementing existing technologies with additional capabilities, it provides various potential advantages for manufacturers in a wide range of industries.
In our Additive Snack podcast we spoke to Boston Consulting Group’s manufacturing and supply chain leader, Wilderich Heising to get a breakdown of the most useful insights to help you understand how to get started on your additive manufacturing (AM) journey.
For most manufacturers, progress requires the flexibility to adapt and fulfill customer needs. Additive manufacturing serves as an excellent opportunity for businesses to remain agile because it opens up the potential for faster production, decentralized processes and the ability to produce small batches of products or parts — ideal for prototyping and testing.
These capabilities mean that companies can widen their range of products and explore new possibilities by serving the unmet needs traditional manufacturing can’t provide. The flexibility of additive manufacturing offers a new range of design techniques and materials that transcend what is possible with traditional techniques. Consider, for example, the aerospace and automotive industries — both rely on the production of precision parts, but with the use of AM, those parts can be made lighter, stronger and with better mechanical performance, all in less time than previously possible.
When adopting new innovative technology like additive manufacturing it’s good to have a clear understanding of the best ways to begin using it. Not only will this mean you can get the most out of the technology itself, but it’ll also ensure your operations and teams are ready to integrate these changes. Here are our top tips on how to make the most of AM:
Identify use cases that will bring value to your customers. Look for areas where you can improve cost, efficiency, speed to market, obsolescence management or function improvement. Trialing one or two specific cases is a great way to ease your organization into the mindset of finding gaps you can fill using additive manufacturing.
Look for opportunities to design and create new products where the limitations of traditional manufacturing may have hindered you in the past. Screen the industry landscape for any areas where competitors are falling short and ask yourself if you could upset the marketplace with an innovative approach. Also consider ways that you can bring an edge to existing products through additive manufacturing.
As with any industry, additive manufacturing has a variety of products, technologies and solutions on the market that allow you to do different things. Be mindful of the array of options available to you and consider which are going to be of the greatest benefit to your operations. It’s important to consider the future when reviewing this, too — AM is here to stay, and it’s continuing to develop, so being ready for its expansion will be key to ongoing success.
Author: Fabian Alefeld