Gregor Reischle, Global Head of Industrial Additive Manufacturing, discusses how additive manufacturing enables companies to innovate
“Additive manufacturing is a great opportunity for all manufacturing segments to innovate, because it delivers use cases for change.
It can help companies to digitalize, to initiate change, and to implement new business models and strategies.”
Global Head of Industrial Additive Manufacturing at TÜV SÜD
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
In general, additive manufacturing benefits all industries, because additive manufacturing enables “on-demand” production business. Industrial components are produced within just a few hours or days. This fundamental benefit of additive manufacturing, which started with rapid prototyping, has moved over the past 10 years to manufacturing. We produce parts quickly without the need for a tool or a form, like hover technology. Time to market is the major benefit.
Additionally, the manufacturing method itself, enables product features and product design possibilities. We can integrate functions, which were previously not able to be integrated with conventional technologies. For example, products with internal cooling structures and integrated complex geometries, such as bone similar materials, can be printed.
Another benefit is being able to set up a printer anywhere spare parts are required. The military takes advantage of this benefit. On-demand production is also beneficial in times of natural disasters, such as hurricanes. If everything is destroyed, you can fly in printers to build up things which are not available in the region. You can print in cars, ships, planes, oil rigs, and plains.
Dental applications are perhaps the most advanced additive manufacturing application for the medical industry, followed by hearing aids, and implants (hips, knee, spine cages).
Special Purpose Machinery
With special purpose machinery, where small numbers of components (up to 1,000 parts) are required, sometimes, it doesn’t make sense to create a tool to be able to manufacture 100 parts. Instead, you can just print them. Everywhere that we need a small number of parts, 3D printing or additive manufacturing delivers a possibility.
Aerospace & Space
Aerospace uses industrial additive manufacturing (iAM) because of its complexity. Complex parts are manufactured in one part in the aerospace segment. The aerospace industry saves costs and time using 3D printers, because the assembly is minimized; they don’t need to reassembly 100 parts into one part. They just print the complex functional parts in one piece.
What we see is the trend that the building volumes are getting bigger and bigger. The manufacturing systems will deliver parts with a lower cost per part. So, the cost of printing a part becomes more accessible for all industries, not only high value industries, like medical and aerospace, but also industries, like automotive. This is something that everyone is waiting for. Here, the trends are bigger building volumes and new material process combinations. Bigger machines can print with lower costs, and new material process combinations, such as binder jetting, are promising to sink down the part costs of a factor up to 100.
We see the second trend on the supply chain and sustainability side. Supply chains are reconsidered globally; this comes with the pandemic as well. 3D printers can be used to meet the sustainability demands. You can minimize the carbon footprint of products because you don’t need to ship a part around the globe if you have a printer installed close to where the products are required. This model changes the supply chain situation. We’re not manufacturing everything in China because it is cheaper and then shipping products to where they are needed. In the future, more and more parts will be manufactured locally where they are required. We see this trend being more and more supported by technology readiness and the upcoming sustainability regulations.
First, we address the cost factor through our services. We minimize cost and time for all implementers because we help them with cost-effective quality and health and safety implementation.
To be able to support all industries, we are very active in standardization, as standards help all industrial additive manufacturing (iAM) ecosystem players, to establish solid solutions. We provide modules, which help to claim that the technology is ready to be used for industrial purpose. We help the industry to save costs, and to achieve quality and readiness for industrial use and production.
Thirdly, we are integrating all our advanced manufacturing services, such as industrial security, robotics, HGV safety, digital twin, escrow, and sustainability into one joint value proposition with our additive services. We, as a TIC player, not only provide additive manufacturing services, but also combine other aspects of clients’ needs and trends in the manufacturing industry.
In general, we will see, of course, more and more systems which can deliver with lower cost per part. The price per part will sink down. The implementation costs with our TIC services will become transparent, predictable, and accountable. So, it is not a mystery anymore how to set up additive manufacturing; it’s very clear and standardized.
Technology-wise, we see that additive manufacturing becomes standardized if we have standardized educated engineers in the industry. More and more education institutes, like MIT, Harvard, TUM in Munich, and others, are focusing on the industrial additive manufacturing (iAM) specifications.
One great trend that I see is that there are more and more system manufacturers which deliver systems with multiple lasers. If we have a multiple laser approach, the cost per part is reduced, in general, because more lasers are working on one platform. This trend excites me because I know that, sooner or later, production costs will significantly be reduced.
Secondly, the software capabilities excite me. We are having more and more software, which is capable to design half automated. So, the design aspect for additive manufacturing is software adjusted. The design (CAD) software helps the designer to design the right thing. Also, simulation software cuts down the costs of trials and failures.
Thirdly, we already, as a TIC player, think how to improve digitally. This excites me because the additive process chain starts digitally with a digital fire design and then ends digitally with a digital part approval. So, this makes the entire implementation story comprehensive.
TÜV SÜD is partnering with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to create an additive manufacturing 2.0 momentum, because for the past 30 plus years, additive manufacturing was mainly used for prototyping and other services, which are not related so much to production. To understand how industrial additive manufacturing (iAM) can be implemented in terms of production and other benefits, which we talked about, it needs top-down commitment as well. Top-down means from the managers of the systems and companies, as well as political decision makers, to really get the benefits of the technology into our daily lives. Therefore, we are at the WEF.
We are preparing a white paper for the industry together with other partners of the WEF to explain to the industry how additive manufacturing is potentially used within business models. We will provide training to our ecosystem partners about how to cost-effectively implement additive manufacturing and what the state-of-the-art industrial implementation is today. Standardized implementation needs to get awareness otherwise we don’t use the technology to its potential.
It’s an advantage and disadvantage to print any data you have access to. As the evolving business models in additive manufacturing, like “spare parts on demand," become reality, the companies that print spare parts need to make sure that their data is cybersecure, not stolen, or modified. These issues need to be solved and that is why cybersecurity is part of the solution. If you have a business model of printing spare parts on demand, you need to take care that those spare parts stay original and quality-assured, and not copied without permission. So that is why cybersecurity is very important.
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