Additive Manufacturing (AM) or 3D printing has evolved into a technology that is ready to be used as a disruptive way for manufacturing. AM is an enabling technology, capable of producing complex models in small lead times, for high value products. Nevertheless, like any other new technology there are risks and unknowns if trying to introduce into a High Volume Manufacturing (HVM) environment.
Irish Manufacturing Research is investing into the creation of a state of the art Additive Manufacturing facility to help the manufacturing industry in Ireland explore the advantages of these emerging AM technologies in a de risked environment.
Paradigm Shift of Additive Manufacturing
The Power of One
Additive Manufacturing allows companies to produce lot sizes of one. What this means is that a company can produce goods for a single consumer that is tailored for them without the added cost of creating tooling.
Complexity is free
Additive manufacturing allows the designers to add value to a product by reducing unnecessary weight and consolidating parts. Since the product is made additively rather than by subtractive techniques, you are free to add complexities which would previously have made the product cost prohibitive.
Additive Manufacturing can also be referred to as ‘direct digital manufacturing’. The product is held as a computer file that is transferred to the machine and then realised as a finished part. As a result the labour costs of additive manufacture can be much more favourable compared to traditional methods.
Challenges to Adopt Additive Manufacturing
The inertia surrounding the adoption of Additive manufacturing can be attributed to several factors.
- Machine Cost
- Rapid emergence of new technology
- Material Capabilities
- Understanding of AM Processes
We are a facilitator for industry and through our own experts, along with our vast industry connections, we have created an Additive Manufacturing lab that can advise, train and work with companies to integrate additive manufacturing into their process chain.