Additive manufacturing or AM represents a new breakthrough in the manufacturing industry. Most people are already familiar with Additive manufacture as 3D printing. This is a transformative approach to industrial manufacturing that allows for the production of lighter and stronger parts and systems. AM can offer digital flexibility and efficiency in manufacturing that traditional manufacturers generally are unable to achieve.
Technology created the path for smarter factories and supply chains, but what didn’t change is the need to print, grind, bend and stamp raw materials. This manufacturing process not only requires expensive assembly of multiple parts and specialized tooling, but also restricts design freedom and generates a lot of waste.
The additive manufacturing process requires computer-aided-design (CAD) software or 3D object scanners to instruct the hardware to apply the material layer by layer in precise geometric shapes to create an object, while traditional manufacturing often requires material to be removed by milling, machining, carving, molding or other means to shape the final product.
A survey of 700 US manufacturing professionals by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in April 2020 (Barclays Corporate and Investment), 25% of respondents said they need to change their supply chain in response to the pandemic, seven industries also ranked AM as one of the three technologies COVID said should be prioritized for investment.
They also ranked AM as a top technology priority for post-pandemic investment in the following sectors:
- Aircraft/Aerospace, Electronics/Computers, and Medical/Surgical/Dental in first place.
- Automotive and consumer products in second place
- And last on the additive manufacturing priority list are defense and industrial/commercial manufacturing.
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