Additive manufacturing includes many technologies, like 3D-printing, rapid prototyping, direct digital manufacturing, layered manufacturing, and additive fabrication. They all have one main thing in common; the addition of material layer by layer. Typically, apart from the additive manufacturing machine itself, a computer with modelling software is needed (e.g. computer assisted design, CAD). The layered material can include various kinds of metal (e.g high-grade steel, aluminium, titanium, alloyed metal) and plastics.
Besides producing prototypes, additive manufacturing can also be considered for producing complex products, such as flow optimisation processes like heat and air transfer. .
- Increasing material and energy efficiency
- Products last longer and require less material to provide the same or better functionality
- Weight and volume optimisation can reduce transport costs
- Potential to produce spare parts locally
- Reduced material consumption can be – depending on the shape of the product – up to 75 % and CO2-emissions to 40 %
- Increased lifetime of complex equipment by reproducing broken parts
- Suitable for small-series production runs
- Supports innovation and new products matching customer needs
Issues to consider for implementation:
- Look at the complete value chain of parts to decide if additive manufacturing would be economically valid in your case
- Review the products and consider items which have either complex geometries, internal channels, lightweight structures, low volume parts and/or many connection pieces
- Keep in mind the potential of additive manufacturing in developing new products