Additive manufacturing (AM) has the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing space—allowing companies across industries to streamline their manufacturing practices; build lighter, stronger and cheaper parts; and accelerate development and production timelines.
Given how nascent this manufacturing technique is, however, it’s understandable that questions—and adoption challenges—still abound. Here, we help you gain access to the information you need—through the insights of Burloak Technologies’ leading experts—so you can navigate this new terrain with confidence.
In this installment, we chat with Burloak’s VP & General Manager, Jason Ball, about why it makes sense to outsource AM services.
- What factors should a company consider before launching their AM journey?
Like many business decisions, the best AM option is one that meets your company’s unique needs and circumstances. That said, before you get started, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, pay attention to the frequency and scale of your proposed AM application. If you plan to produce a constant stream of low-volume parts and prototypes, for instance, this will require different equipment and expertise than if you intend to scale your AM production runs.
Similarly, if you’re looking to produce end-use parts, it’s wise to find a provider that can offer additive manufacturing, post-processing and quality assurance solutions in one place—and that has a skilled and knowledgeable team with extensive AM experience. Some companies begin the AM journey by printing prototypes in-house, but quickly discover that end products require additional steps that must be outsourced. Outsourcing also gives companies access to the specialized knowledge and experience necessary to avoid costly errors.
- What should manufacturers look for in an AM provider?
AM involves much more than investing in an AM printer or two. The truth is, there’s a lot involved in the AM process—so you want to outsource to a trustworthy and knowledgeable AM professional.
Specifically, it’s good to look for an AM partner that offers:
- teams that are well-versed in Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM),
- a wide selection of cutting-edge AM equipment,
- an in-depth understanding of that equipment (including knowledge around which machines are best-suited to your needs),
- extensive materials knowledge,
- labs to test those materials (and make sure they meet your specifications),
- extensive post-processing capabilities (including heat treatments and machining) and
- facilities capable of scaling AM.
Essentially, you want to find a provider that can offer seamless end-to-end services—everything from design to final product testing—all under one roof. So not only do you get access to cutting-edge equipment and leading AM expertise when you outsource to a best-in-class provider, but you don’t have to deal with the hassle of sourcing things like metallurgical lab testing services or heat treatments from a list of separate providers.
- What advantages does a top tier AM provider offer?
A solid AM provider offers a broad range of benefits that make the AM process run smoothly. For one, because they’re invested solely in AM, they should have multiple AM technologies in-house and be able to identify the ideal one(s) for your specific application and truly optimize the use of this manufacturing method to get the properties you’re looking for.
Second, a strong AM partner will have access to a broad array of materials and understand the capabilities and limitations of each. Additionally, some providers, like Burloak, will even have materials testing laboratories in-house, allowing them to efficiently qualify a particular material.
Lastly, end-to-end solutions ensure your AM services are completed all in one place. This means you don’t have to source other third-party providers, suffer through delays (and conflicting production schedules), or lose time transporting your products for quality assurance, powder characterization, material science and post-processing.
To learn more about the advantages of outsourcing your AM efforts to a trusted partner like Burloak, contact us.