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.
Here, Jason Ball, VP & General Manager at Burloak, talks about how AM can help manufacturers more easily customize their offerings.
Manufacturers are under increasing pressure these days to shift from mass production to mass customization. How can AM help them meet these customer demands?
The way AM handles materials is very different than traditional manufacturing techniques. Based on a digital model, 3D-printed objects are built layer-by-layer, rather than with the conventional method of cutting, hollowing and taking parts out of a material block.
When used with Design for Additive Manufacturing methodologies, manufacturers can experience increased design freedom and agility and create geometries that were previously impossible.
How does the process of product customization differ between AM and traditional manufacturing techniques?
Traditional manufacturing techniques require designers to think restrictively versus opportunistically. The more a design requires a block of material to be chipped away, and the more complex it is, the more expensive it is to manufacture. Additionally, because a component is often comprised of many different pieces, customization requires different tooling, molds and machinery, which makes customization very challenging.
With AM, a customized product uses the same equipment. It also takes similar amount of time, energy and material to manufacture, regardless of whether the customized piece takes the form of a complex shape or a simple one. Essentially, all that changes is the CAD design, which is easily transferred to the 3D printer.
We’re seeing the benefits of this in many industries—from industrial manufacturing to automotive, and everything in between. Today, manufacturers can easily integrate an end user’s desired features into a standard product, build components to achieve a custom fit, or utilize different materials or geometries to enhance an existing part, all without incurring additional costs.
How is AM evolving to make customization even easier in the future?
Additive manufacturing technology has improved immensely over the last several years for high-throughput and high-quality printing, and we have every reason to believe that trend will continue.
Over the next few years, we expect to see technological advancements, new material developments, and enhanced industry collaboration—all of which will proliferate the adoption of AM and make affordable product customization more available to more companies.
If you’d like to learn more about how AM can support your customization efforts, contact us.