Data-driven systems. Unique partnerships leading to increased productivity, efficiency and cost reductions. A changing landscape with a bigger focus on automation. Manufacturing’s outlook at the start of 2017 began a conversation on ways to propel the industry headfirst into the integrated, digital world.
One of the digital initiatives at the forefront of this crusade is the Internet of Things (IoT). Over the past several years, the industry has been learning best practices and watching its impacts on production, and 2017 proved to be no different. This past year, companies continued to focus on modernizing their production floors by developing IoT business strategies, and implementing it through software, equipment and training.
Additive manufacturing builds up parts by binding plastics and other materials together, with lasers, LEDs, other light sources, heaters or electron beams supplying the necessary energy. The resulting parts are light yet still strong. What’s more, they can be built to order and customized as needed.
Additive manufacturing, aka 3D printing, makes parts one at a time and eliminates the need for retooling when a design is changed. It is used for aerospace, military and other demanding applications, as well as in automotive prototyping or other areas where it offers a cost advantage. For now, high-volume additive manufacturing remains more expensive than traditional production, but the goal is to make it part of the standard manufacturing tool kit.
Alan Amling is VP of UPS’s Supply Chain Solutions. Most of his career has been on the innovation-side of the business-marketing strategy, e-commerce strategy, new-product development-mixed with business unit marketing leadership roles. Looking at the future, the convergence of trends and how he can keep on the right-side of disruption. He currently runs UPS’s Global On-Demand Manufacturing Initiative, but has his hands in some emerging technologies (IoT, blockchain), opportunities (global e-commerce) and disrupters (platform businesses, smart cities) with a constant focus on sustainability (economic, environmental and social).
Published in September 2017, in conjunction with Imperial College London’s Additive Manufacturing Network, this paper presents an overview of the potential economic, technical and environmental benefits of additive manufacturing (AM) – 3D printing – as well as the current hurdles across the AM process chain that need to be overcome to realise a more-effective and more-profitable industry. For example, improved design software, faster printing technology, increased automation and better industry standards are required.
Imperial College London is equipped to play a leading role in the UK’s ever-growing AM landscape. The current portfolio of AM-based research is varied and encompasses problems across the entire design-to-end-use-product chain. Research projects include, for instance, the development of new design methodologies for optimised multimaterial AM parts, novel metal-based AM printing techniques, investigations of fundamental AM material properties and 3D printing of next-generation biomaterials for medical applications.
AM research at Imperial can be further extended by capitalising on the College’s world-class scientific and engineering expertise and factilities, its culture of collaboration and history of effective research translation. There are several ways for external partners interested in the AM field to engage with Imperial academics: focused workshops, bespoke consultancy services, funding for specific research projects and facilities, or student placements
Download the paper
3D printing has moved from the margins to the mainstream and it is design and manufacturing companies that are really starting to benefit from the unique characteristics of additive technologies, enabling them to reduce the time it takes to bring products to market, says Matthew Aldridge, igus’ managing director.
For many years, 3D printing was viewed as something of a technological curiosity. The nature of additive manufacturing was so different to traditional subtractive technologies that it quickly caught the public’s imagination. 3D printing was everywhere: on TV, at exhibitions, in the national press. But after the initial fascination fell away, one primary question was being asked: 3D printing might represent a new way of making products, but when would it ever be used?
Design-rich experience and immediate product delivery are the new normal in consumer demand, which is forcing radical shifts in the global supply chain. 3D printing is a critical component to a successful transition to on-demand manufacturing.
On-demand products are customer-specific items produced at (or near) the point of need.
Sounds simple enough, right?
But for supply chain managers, nothing could be less simple. They will spend restless nights and long, bleary-eyed days in front of spreadsheets, trying to align their piece of operational model to the needs of on-demand manufacturing.
An independent review of the UK’s manufacturing sector led by Jürgen Maier, CEO of Siemens UK, has reached completion. The Made Smarter Review Report calls for government and businesses to come together and embrace the nation’s potential as a leader of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0).
The study follows earlier recommendations from AM UK and the UK Additive Manufacturing National Strategy 2018-2025, which also found that 3D printing will make a significant contribution to high-value manufacturing.
As 3D printing continues to get more traction across industries, the hype increases – but can the additive manufacturing live up to it?
Some may call it disruptive, others may love the idea, but the rise of technologies such as 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, could herald a vast change to the future of a range of industries.
Even across industries such as automotive and healthcare, there has been increasing adoption across different areas which is unlikely to slow down anytime soon.
Predicting the future is not an easy thing to do because in Yoda’s words, “Always in Motion the Future is”. However, it might help to look back before looking forward. Following on from a period of hype in the 3D printing industry around consumer desktop printers the current market for 3D printers is largely divergent—at the low end are limited-function offerings of interest to hobbyists and makers. At the high end, there are expensive printers that are inaccessible in the main.
But looking to the future there are huge opportunities in this industry. Let’s have a look, Wohlers reports that the manufacturing market is currently worth a whopping $10.5 trillion and the 3D printing market is worth a fraction of this at $5 billion. Even if 3D printing grows to just 2% of the manufacturing market it could will be worth a substantial $210 billion! Wohlers predicts the 3D printing market will grow to $20 billion by 2020 but what part of the 3D market will dominate? Production will grow to $7.4 billion and the consumer market to $0.4 billion. But growing at a CAGR of 29% and to the value of $12 billion prototyping will continue to present opportunities for those companies that continue to improve their offerings.
This year’s IN(3D)USTRY expo in Barcelona, one of the world’s largest 3D printing conferences, had a schedule that was even more packed than that of the inaugural event in 2016. IN(3D)USTRY had invited speakers and exhibitors from every tier of the 3D printing eco-system, and the big hitters from the likes of Sony and Airbus rubbed shoulders with 3D printing start-ups, pioneering designers, and representatives of local technology initiatives.
To make this mouth-watering additive manufacturing smorgasbord a little easier to digest, the event was organized roughly into three parts, with each day focused on a particular industrial sector.
Day one of the conference was dedicated to two of the most high-profile and successful recent adopters of 3D printing technology, the Automotive and Aerospace industries. Along with the talks from SEAT, Renault, FCA, the European Space Agency, and other major players, there were also ample opportunities to get up close and personal with some of the 3D printing companies responsible for the recent additive manufacturing revolution in the aerospace and automotive sectors.