What’s In Store For Additive Manufacturing In 2018?
With additive manufacturing a key driver of Industry 4.0, we take a closer look at the trends we can expect to see in 2018 and beyond. By Terrence Oh, vice president (Asia Pacific), EOS Singapore
Optimism is a word that is currently synonymous with the manufacturing industry’s outlook for the next few years. A catalyst for this growth is partly due to the rise in additive manufacturing (AM), or industrial 3D printing. By 2019, Gartner estimated that 3D printer sales will grow at 72.8 percent compound annual growth rate or reach more than US$14.6 billion.
While AM has seen an uptake in recent years, mass adoption is only prevalent in certain regions like North America and Europe. For AM providers, one of the biggest challenges faced is to educate customers to fully comprehend the benefits of AM in their production strategy.
This is a critical barrier that is preventing businesses from deploying unprecedented technologies such as AM—a disruptor in manufacturing and a fast-evolving technology despite its relative maturity.
The technology is a key driver of Industry 4.0, and slow adoption can prevent an even accelerated market growth in the industry, which is crucial for enabling smart factories of the future.
As we approach the year ahead, we have taken a closer look at the AM trends we can expect to see in 2018 and beyond.
Am Mass Production Will Be Gaining Speed
There is still a long way ahead for mass adoption of AM, especially in Asia Pacific, but this might pick up in the years ahead. The innovative leaps made in software, breadth of materials, colour capabilities and printing techniques have spurred adoption in aerospace, healthcare, automotive and fast-moving consumer goods industries.
This is because AM is most often in demand in industries where material resilience, technical precision and structural engineering are paramount.
By integrating AM into their production strategy, innovation cycles are sped up and a quantum leap is achieved in lead time.
Greater Control Over Part Quality
Engineers are constantly seeking ways to develop components of high quality, functionality, and robustness, all while simplifying and reducing the production chain. This is able to be achieved with AM, as manufacturers have greater control over part quality and more.
A key benefit of AM adoption is eliminating production costs as part production only requires the components to be accounted for. This makes set-up and tooling costs close to zero. The material savings translate into more flexibility in design and engineering. Reduced production processes due to minimised part assembly can also make way for time savings.
Sustainability & Customisability
Manufacturers are able to create products/structures that are more sustainable and eco-friendly with AM. This is crucial in boosting waste reduction and sustainability into our everyday habits.
Tailoring AM technologies to specific business needs can enable new applications based on the technology. For example, the partnership with EOS and Wipro3D has enabled a customised and complete value chain of AM solutions to customers in India.
This applies to others as well, where we are able to value-add to boost their AM ecosystem and the industrialisation of AM. We are also noticing that AM adoption is beginning to rise steadily in China, India and Japan, and we expect this to intensify in years to come.
More Training & Education
To address the education gap in AM, we foresee an increase to build up capabilities from early on, partially fuelled by more government expenditure in this area. In Singapore, the National Additive
Manufacturing Innovation Cluster has been a key pillar in establishing AM facilities in tertiary institutions. As Singapore moves to become a leading AM hub, these facilities will play a crucial role in advancing intellectual property development and commercialisation in these technologies.
To help organisations have the know-how, Additive Minds was set up in November 2016 to help them enjoy the full potential of AM that they need through training. The consulting unit is constantly on the lookout to expand their offerings in the region so that users can achieve the next level of innovation sooner.
Partnerships with institutions such as Incheon Polytechnic have also been formed to offer a first-hand experience on the host of possibilities that AM offers. Aside from establishing an AM-specific knowledge base more efficiently, universities can increase their appeal as centres of education by offering more course options on key 3D printing technology topics.
SIDE STORY: Flexible Production & Increased Efficiency
Additive manufacturing technology supplier EOS recently presented its software portfolio at formnext 2017, held in November 2017. The company’s software aims to provide businesses with the necessary tools to integrate industrial 3D printing into their manufacturing process, enabling a flexible production and increased efficiency. Dr Tobias Abeln, chief technical officer at EOS said, “We understand the challenges of our customers with regards to industry 4.0 and the need for increased productivity.”
The company’s CAM tool EOSprint 2 allows the integration of AM into serial production. Users integrating AM and post-process machining can utilise the reference point calibration feature.
The feature can set the same zero point across different machine types, such as milling and turning machines and industrial 3D printing. Additionally, the software offers functionalities to enhance material and process development with the DoE (Design of Experiments) Set-up feature.
Machine and production data can be gathered and made available in near real-time with EOSConnect. Connections can also be made to premise MES/ERP solutions but also to serve upcoming digital marketplaces and IoT platforms.
Additionally, an app is made available to visualise the data in a dashboard. With this, companies can gain a seamless handover of production data into their computer aided quality systems for secure traceability, helping them to validate their processes for production. They also can benefit from transparency with visualisation and readout of real-time production key performance indicators.
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