In the modern world, Additive Manufacturing (AM) has an important role to play as a method that allows companies to evolve their products in response to the demands of the market. It allows for the customised design and manufacture of more complex structures and geometries, and can also result in higher manufacturing performance, greater efficiencies and better environmental sustainability.
Considering the many benefits of AM begs the question of why it hasn’t been more widely adopted in the manufacturing industry. In this article, we discuss five current challenges to the scaling of additive manufacturing.
#1 Technological challenges
Further research is required for manufacturers to overcome technical challenges and encourage manufacturers to adopt AM beyond the purpose of prototyping.
- Material challenges – With AM still being a relatively ‘new’ technology, gaps still need to be closed in the development, standardisation and qualification of materials.
- Process implementation and post-processing – Processes in today’s state-of-the-art production lines are synchronised and sophisticated. Investment is required in order to get AM products made with the same efficiency.
- Quality assurance – Inspection and quality assurance are essential to guarantee product quality and tolerance compliance.
#2 IT integration challenges
Consistent IT standards and a digital thread through each stage of the design and manufacturing process are currently lacking in most factories. As a highly digital process, AM requires a conceptual shift that has major implications for the data architecture.
#3 Design challenges
Transitioning to integrated AM requires an entire re-design and re-evaluation of the product structure. There’s currently a shortage of well-trained and skilled technicians familiar with the technology and able to adapt to the AM process.
#4 Capability challenges
An efficient transition to AM requires the workforce to adapt accordingly with new engineering and management skills. Unlike a specialist skill (such as welding), AM requires a field of generalists to combine and apply different mechanical and engineering skills.
#5 Financial challenges
Attempting to identify the business case for AM is a challenge. Unlike conventional manufacturing, the AM cost model is structured as a series of workflow steps (preparation, printing, post-processing), where each step comes with its own cost factors.
Partner with the experts to overcome these constraints
Despite these challenges, the AM market is growing rapidly. According to Deloitte, the AM market grew annually by 47% from 2012 to 2017 and is expected to reach $ 26.5 billion by 2021.
A holistic approach to additive manufacturing is the only way to optimise your parts for cost-effective and efficient production. Akhani 3D is your partner production AM service bureau that makes this possible. Get in touch to talk to us about your AM needs: https://akhani3d.com/contact-us/.