Additive manufacturing has become difficult to ignore in the last few years. The media, universities and different sectors of industry are talking about it. This is possibly one of the key elements of the so-called Industry 4.0.
As we know, AF is a set of manufacturing technologies by which a three-dimensional digital design is materialised into a real object. This is done through the addition of material, which may (or may not) come in layers.
The process starts with a three-dimensional computer model. At this point it is interesting to remember that the additive methodology is opposed to traditional subtractive manufacturing.
At Mizar Additive we believe that these features (together with several others that we are about to explain) represent a major breakthrough and bring great benefits to the manufacturing sector. We would therefore like to give you a summary of what it can offer you.
We will look at three areas where these advantages become clear:
Flexibility and customization
Additive manufacturing allows a high degree of customisation and this provides significant advantages over other types of so-called conventional manufacturing. Flexibility in manufacturing different geometries provides a great deal of design freedom and opens the door to exponentially growing possibilities for innovation.
Mass manufacturing is no longer a major player in Industry 4.0 and customised products are gaining ground at a rapid pace, giving way to mass customisation. Additive manufacturing allows access to this new production model as it removes the need for processes and tooling (reducing costs) and allows geometries to be modified while meeting customer needs.
In a market with a hyper-connected customer profile and, therefore, a high level of knowledge of the types of demand, the tools and production processes also require great flexibility and capacity for customisation. Additive manufacturing favours this responsiveness towards the customer.
It also reduces development and time to market, and enables rapid part creation (thanks to the possibility of immediate design adjustments and pre-market testing).
On the other hand, the possibility of using new materials is leading to the manufacture of more functional, higher performance products with complex structures and light weights; they are also much cheaper and more affordable.
As a result, a different sourcing model opens up, allowing for the possibility of recovering parts that have been withdrawn from the market or are difficult to find. Additive manufacturing is facilitating the transition to virtual inventories of parts (allowing both mass and unit production).
Speed is one of the key reasons for the rise of additive manufacturing.
Additive manufacturing enables faster and more flexible manufacturing processes, where set-up times are reduced and certain steps are eliminated from the overall production process. In addition, the number of parts required is smaller, considerably reducing assembly and set-up times.
Additive manufacturing is becoming the choice of many design engineers to create products. They spend less time iterating on the perfect design and more time on the engineering itself. Moreover, additive manufacturing can easily produce organic shapes thanks to generative design engines that can suggest designs beforehand – designs that few of us would have thought of on our own, while still conforming to specifications.
All this promotes shorter production times and avoids delineation or tooling processes.
Savings and optimization
Design optimisation is a determining factor when it comes to additive manufacturing. By lightweighting the workpiece and using internal structures and hollowing, material savings and process optimisation are achieved.
Prototyping of parts, on the other hand, saves time, as additive manufacturing does away with stages such as assembly and machining.
There is another type of saving that has to do with production lines. Occasionally certain parts may break due to friction and high temperatures, continuous use, or weak welding spots. When a part in the production line breaks down, the production line may stop leading to repair and production downtime costs. Additive manufacturing can produce parts to replace broken ones, bringing numerous advantages: reduction of the number of individual components, strengthening of breakable structures, improved surface finish to reduce friction, etc.
Structural integrity is a further saving from additive manufacturing. Components of a part are reduced, weight is lightened, assembly costs are reduced, and moulds and tooling are eliminated. This eliminates costs that are not directly associated with the price of the individual part.
Maintenance of parts and production systems in additive manufacturing is faster and cheaper. Particularly when parts are subject to heavy wear and tear, and have to be constantly replaced.
The supply chain is simplified, localised production is favoured, obsolete parts are eliminated and even specific components are reconditioned with less dependence on suppliers.
This and many other advantages are offered by additive manufacturing and Mizar Additive invites you to discover them for yourself. Contact us and discover everything we can do for your company.