Additive manufacturing is a class of promising technologies for the customized production of complex-shaped parts from a 3D computer model by sequential application of material (usually layer-by-layer) - as opposed to the so-called subtractive production (for example, traditional machining).
As follows from the above definitions, additive technologies make it possible to manufacture a part or product directly from a computer 3D model, which is virtually cut into thin layers; the file with this model is transferred to the system, which carries out the layer-by-layer formation of the final product. The development of additive technologies began in the early 1980s. from rapid prototyping - creating a prototype of a product in order to check calculations, refinement and approval of a prototype before starting serial production.
The cost of manufacturing a single prototype was many times higher than the cost of manufacturing a unit of product in mass production, while manufacturing a sample took several weeks. The ability to quickly create a prototype and quickly check its parameters has become a technological breakthrough for manufacturing and design companies and has served as an impetus for the development of the market. Industrial companies drew attention to the new technology and began to use it for the development of tooling, which significantly reduced the preparatory production cycle and cost.
Main modern technologies:
Main modern materials of additive manufacturing:
The obvious benefits of additive manufacturing today are:
Despite the undeniable advantages of 3D printing, there are fundamental limitations that hinder the expansion of the scope of the technology:
Financial perspectives of additive technology
According to Frost & Sullivan, the global market for additive technologies is growing at an annual rate of 15%. If the CAGR (compound annual growth rate) remains at this level, the market size is projected to increase from $ 5.31 billion in 2018 to $ 21.5 billion in 2025. According to experts, by that time, up to 51% of the AP market will be accounted for by the aviation industry, healthcare, and the automotive industry. And the experts from J’son & Partners Consulting showed that:
The 3D printing market is at the very beginning of an upsurge, printing experiments in different industries, various product ranges, product redesign; software, materials, equipment, processes are being intensively improved.
3D printing confidently takes its place in almost all sectors of the real sector of the economy, has been put into commercial operation, companies continue to expand the range of printed products.
The use of additive technologies in production, marketing, design, visualization for customers and company management is expanding every year:
By 2030, 2/3 of all manufactured products in the world will be manufactured with printed components.
By 2030–2050 in a number of manufacturing industries, 3D printing will allow printing completely finished products.
Despite the continued growth of the market, experts admit that their expectations for additive technology were "a little overheated." And this is due, in my opinion, to the fact that these technologies were going through a phase when the main drivers of market promotion were technology developers.
For quite a long time they positioned additive technology separately from other methods of creating products, trying to present their results not as part of the value chain, but as a separate opportunity, sometimes as a service, sometimes as products, but always separately.
This was the stopper. And now further development associated with the organization of business goes in two directions: integration into the overall value chain at the enterprise and deepening the system of division of labor within the additive industry itself. It became clear that at this stage of development, additive manufacturing occupies the most important place in the philosophy of Industry 4.0, being the embodiment of the effective connection between the digital and physical world.
Compared to traditional manufacturing, the most important advantages of additive manufacturing are manifested in the additional capabilities at the stage of product design and development.
Despite its limitations, companies are increasingly using it to take advantage of this key advantage, which allows them to increase design complexity without proportionally increasing the complexity-for-free cost of the part, which is not possible in traditional manufacturing.
Another advantage manifests itself in the analysis of economic models of production. A production chain is the process of converting raw materials into goods. Converting available resources into products requires a number of steps: design, planning, manufacturing, and selling. In recent years, it seems that the traditional value chain is undergoing transformation through the use of 3D printing technologies.
Custom products with complex geometries can be designed and manufactured using additive manufacturing. In this way, markets can be supplied with the required products on time, without creating large stocks at companies, which usually entail high costs. In fact, in some cases, 3D printing creates the possibility of localizing production at the point of use, which reduces (or eliminates) transport costs, making additive technologies a competitor not only to other production processes, but also to transport.
As the 3D printing “universe” continues to expand, it is important for both hobbyists and entrepreneurs to understand the quantitative and qualitative effects of new products entering the market. These developments are constantly pushing the boundaries of the additive approach, both in terms of design and cost effectiveness. Turning to the "economic" block, I can say that additive technologies are developing completely in line with global trends, becoming part of system platform solutions for the production and sale of goods.
Three types of market players are developing their platforms and “ecosystems” that include an additive component:
Summarizing the economic effects, it must be said that additive technologies "interfere" with the product life cycle at different stages - design, supply chain, sales process, labor resources, and marketing and, as a result, affect the final consumer.
Moreover, all these elements are interconnected, and an improvement in one of them develops the entire business system:
Entrepreneurial initiative plays a key role in the “effective use” of additive technologies: the formation of proposals for new and traditional markets with a deep understanding of the problems and opportunities of modern high-tech industries and additive manufacturing, allow us to count on market growth and an increase in the number of successful companies in this area.
Additive manufacturing is changing the world. It transforms the way products are designed and manufactured. These are completely new possibilities for the production of products that were discussed above. Additive manufacturing is a revolutionary technology. It changes the characteristics of products: weight, quality parameters and distribution methods. It's not that you can now quickly print a toy, unique gift, or replacement parts for your lawn mower.
More importantly, these technologies are revolutionizing the design, manufacture and supply of products. They affect the entire product lifecycle that business leaders care about. The need to print parts on demand is a significant factor driving the adoption of additive technologies, especially in the production of spare parts. If you urgently need to replace a failed part, but at the same time you do not have the opportunity to keep a whole warehouse of expensive spare parts, then an additive technological process becomes the best option.
Parts are printed as needed - anytime, anywhere. This is the revolutionary nature of the process - in localization. This approach allows us to take into account the unique needs of the consumer and ensures fast delivery of spare parts at any time during the operation of the product. The new technology simplifies manufacturing processes and also enables parts to be manufactured in-house rather than third-party suppliers, which guarantees strict quality control and eliminates the need to keep stock.
Businesses strive to improve quality and reduce costs, and ensure that parts can be manufactured at the right time in the right place. Reducing the cost of manufacturing and supplying products plays a colossal role for the future of manufacturing companies.
Additive technologies are opening up new possibilities for shortening delivery times and securing inventory levels. The new revolutionary production technology makes it possible to produce products that previously could only be dreamed of.
Additive manufacturing is completely transforming the engineering industry and allows for the most daring innovations that take products to a fundamentally new level. Additive manufacturing doesn't work wonders by itself. Its support requires special software applications and functions. Additive technologies have enormous innovative potential. They can help you produce great products faster and cheaper, innovate and provide a competitive edge.
It is true that the time has not yet come when smart 3D printers will produce products with real performance and surface quality at the speed of existing injection machines, milling and turning centers and other modern production equipment.
But technology is advancing and the revolution has begun! Cutting-edge developments are moving towards this cherished goal. Now hundreds of projects and start-ups have turned their attention to additive technologies and have begun the stage of exploring and diversifying opportunities. The revolutionary stage is a time of trial and error, but right now, when placing an order from industry for a specific functionality of machines and materials, progress is real.
The main result in this revolution is the production of highly detailed solid products from liquid polymers and the emergence of a wider range of materials with specified physical and mechanical properties. Today, the additive revolution is already taking place in a number of sectors of the economy, such as:
The introduction of additive technologies in other critical industries, in connection with the increased requirements for the quality of products, is recommended for the success of implementation in a certain sequence:
The above-mentioned industries have found an economic justification for the introduction of additive manufacturing precisely according to this algorithm.
When assessing the potential business benefits of additive manufacturing, it is important to understand three basic principles related to complexity, scale of production, and product size:
Concrete results already obtained based on the principles mentioned above are best classified according to the criterion of adding value to processes and products. The more this value plays in solving the problems of the end user, the more opportunities for the emergence of competitive advantages, new business models and proposals. Business benefits for processes:
Additive manufacturing opens up opportunities for collaborative product creation with consumers. Collaboration can be carried out at almost all stages of the product life cycle. During the conceptual phase of a new product, consumer feedback can be easily taken into account by testing small batches. You can also customize your existing design or add value to your product throughout its life by releasing customized add-ons. In situations where
By using additive manufacturing in combination with tools such as 3D scanners, companies can now mass produce customized products with high levels of cost-effectiveness. Since the performance of such products is generally much better, their consumer value increases significantly. This form of customization creates many new business models in a wide variety of areas (from prostheses and glasses to headphones). It is important to note here that despite the growing market for affordable scanning instruments, it is necessary to use sophisticated professional 3D scanners to create medical devices (prostheses, hearing aids, etc.) in order to ensure the required high level of accuracy.
Product lifecycle management is currently one of the main applications of additive manufacturing in industry. Life cycle extension begins with the product or part development phase. Leveraging the design capabilities of additive manufacturing eliminates the need for assembly, which increases product lifecycle and reduces malfunctions. During the after-sales service phase, the lifespan of the equipment in use can be extended through the use of custom tooling and scarce, expensive custom made parts. In general, this process involves improving the supply chain (reducing the number of manufacturing operations, reducing tooling costs and simplifying maintenance procedures). As a result, this leads to a significant reduction in total costs in the supply chain, as well as an increase in the level of customer service.
Additive manufacturing requires a large number of new resources that are just beginning to form in enterprises, so there is a promising niche for service providers. Understanding design capabilities and potential product benefits, design considerations for additive manufacturing, 3D printing materials and techniques, 3D printer and post-processing skills, and quality improvement actions all require skilled and experienced employees. Enterprises of all sizes are increasingly pondering what role they could play in the provision of additive manufacturing services.
With the development of additive technologies, the possibilities of their application also expand, both from a technological and economic point of view. As the productivity of the equipment increases, the level of depreciation and costs for each printed part will correspondingly decrease. This means that a much larger range of products or parts will become economically 3D-printable.
Increasing the maximum printable area will also have a positive impact on the business model. The ability to print larger parts will also allow larger batches to be produced in a single print session. This will result in shorter lead times and a corresponding reduction in total cost of ownership.
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