Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Terrence Oh, Senior Vice President at EOS, regarding current trends in additive manufacturing.
Could you provide us with an overview of the current trends in additive manufacturing?
The global additive manufacturing (AM) market is currently predicted to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 27 percent between 2018 and 2023. In the APAC region, the AM industry is continually growing and is set to have the highest CAGR due to the fast-growing industries like the automotive sector.
With that in mind, as the fourth industrial revolution continues to gain traction, the economics of manufacturing are changing—the industry looks towards moving to smart factories of the future. Digitalisation in manufacturing is emphasising the necessity to assimilate advanced software capabilities in AM, such as AI, automation and machine learning, to name a few—combining all these technologies together to elevate the AM industry to its full potential. This changes the fundamentals of how products are developed, scaled and manufactured.
What are the newest innovations in metal 3D printing technology developed by EOS?
EOS M 300-4 is the latest addition to the EOS M 300 series for Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS). It is designed to be a future-proof, automation-ready system which is scalable, configurable and secure. The system’s full-field overlap with four scanners, enables the lasers to reach all spots on the build platform and offer flexible component orientation. Customers are able to customise between different solutions to meet their needs. Customisable features include choosing between one, two or four lasers that come with configurations of 400 or 1,000 Watt, different types of recoaters and fixed or variable focus. The EOS M 300-4 increases production productivity by a factor of four to 10, resulting in considerably lower costs per part.
What are some challenges manufacturing industries face when adopting these technologies?
Amidst rising protectionism and trade conflicts, higher tariffs would put Asia’s manufacturing scene at risk due to higher operating costs. This could also impact the decentralisation of the region’s manufacturing sector.
While AM usage in various industries are increasing, a skills gap is still prominent within the industry due to the niche expertise required. As a whole, Singapore’s manufacturing industry still operates rather traditionally with most companies looking to match specific job requirements with those that have specific skills and experience. The emergence of new technologies has unavoidably led to changes in job scopes, forcing the manufacturing industry to acknowledge the need to be versatile. If not addressed earlier, the lack of adequately-skilled talent could adversely impact the AM industry’s growth and other industries that tap on AM.
How can these challenges be overcome?
Despite trade tensions and volatility, businesses that embrace advanced technologies can leverage AM to transform and grow. Manufacturing domestically would be more practical compared to overseas imports. With that said, AM adoption can also help businesses reduce part-to-production costs, production processes and time.
An industry’s success highly depends on the skill of the workforce. Manufacturing demands across verticals move much quicker and efficiently than ever before now, thus the need to strengthen the AM industry’s competency and readiness. Employees need to be open to upskilling and reskilling themselves with up and coming technologies like AM. This could be done through training programmes provided by their companies.
An example of a training programme we have undertaken is the Joint Industry Program (JIP) for Capability Transfer. Done in collaboration with the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC), the initiative addresses the skills gap needed in the Additive Manufacturing (AM) industry across a myriad of sectors such as aerospace, medical and tooling.
Where do you think additive manufacturing is headed in the next five to 10 years?
Industry 4.0 will continue to be a main focus in manufacturing as the industry makes way for smarter and intelligent manufacturing solutions and processes. As digitalisation becomes increasingly integrated into manufacturing, this will impact the production chain. For example, the way parts are designed will start to evolve to become more complex, functional, sustainable and even aesthetically-pleasing.
AM has already established its presence in the aerospace, healthcare, automotive and consumer-goods industries, and will continue to do so as these sectors are predicted to experience higher market growth according to McKinsey. More industries will also tap on AM to optimise its full potential and to make manufacturing more efficient and affordable.
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