Additive manufacturing (or 3D printing) has captured the imagination of the manufacturing space. But why? Let’s find out more.
Additive manufacturing is when you build products using 3D printers that layer materials to precise specifications, directed by scanners or CAD software. It’s called additive because you’re only adding materials to the product, rather than in conventional manufacturing, where you may need to take materials away (e.g. cutting or filing).
If you’re not using additive manufacturing in your processes, you could be missing out on some significant advantages. In this article, we’ll look at four essential benefits of additive manufacturing.
1 – Additive manufacturing is cost-effective
The upfront cost of additive manufacturing equipment is falling all the time, including 3D printers and materials. As a result, it’s never been easier to get started.
Once you’ve got to grips with additive manufacturing, you’ll find cost savings everywhere. For example, prototyping is much less expensive than it used to be as you can use standard equipment, making super-fast adjustments to your prototype as you go.
Additive manufacturing also means you can make smaller production runs without it being a drain on cost. For example, if you only need a small number of the same part, it’s much faster and cheaper to print one rather than worry about moulds.
2 - Additive manufacturing is all about simplicity
Additive manufacturing makes the production process much easier, as well as faster and more cost-effective. For example, you don’t need a store full of replacement parts anymore, taking up valuable space. Instead, you can create a virtual storeroom of part information, and if you need a replacement, simply 3D print one out.
You can also use additive manufacturing to remove steps from the manufacturing process, making it faster, cheaper and reducing opportunities for error. For example, rather than have multiple stages for complex parts, as in traditional manufacturing, additive manufacturing allows you to consolidate several parts into a single piece.
3 – Additive manufacturing is more efficient
When you bring additive manufacturing into your production process, you immediately become more efficient. As well as reducing the storage space you require and cutting the number of manufacturing steps you need in your process, additive manufacturing allows you to cut down on waste and energy consumption. Additive manufacturing is about layering only the materials you need until you have a completed part. There should only be a tiny amount of waste material, if any.
Additive manufacturing may be the latest cutting-edge technology, but it can also prolong the life of your legacy machines. For example, if you need a replacement part for a machine but don’t have any in your warehouse, you can simply print one out rather than take your machine out of service.
4 – Additive manufacturing is innovative
The world of additive manufacturing is constantly innovating and improving. New printable materials like metals, polymers and composites are continually being introduced to the market. Additive manufacturing is compatible with the latest design methods, powered by artificial intelligence. You can also easily create lightweight, strong lattice structures using additive manufacturing, which used to be such a challenge with traditional manufacturing processes.
Get moving with additive manufacturing
Now you have four great reasons to get started with additive manufacturing. The great thing about it is that you can begin experimenting with very little upfront cost or previous experience. Try it – and see the difference.