Page 15 - 3D Metal Printing Winter 2019
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 ing as much as 60 percent less flying across its commercial and space programs, con- tributing to significant fuel savings.
AM also addresses the challenges around demand for unique parts in low quantities, as seen throughout the auto- motive industry. Through AM, automotive OEMs and suppliers can better manage their supply chains, delivering parts on- demand, rather than forcing buyers to order and wait longer periods of time for their unique parts to arrive. Car compa- nies, such as Daimler AG, now use AM to produce parts faster and for less.
Hybrid Manufacturing Environments
The future of AM depends on the tech- nology’s ability to make repeatable parts that leverage unique designs, while solving a specific challenge, or challenges. That said, contrary to how AM was viewed a few years ago, the technology does not exist to completely replace traditional man- ufacturing methods. Customer require- ments tend to center around integrating AM technology into existing production environments, linking AM with conven- tional manufacturing technologies and continuously optimizing the flow of data and parts.
Cloud computing represents a key technology for hybrid manufacturing environments as described above. The cloud has the potential to enable cus- tomers to design a unique component and have it printed and delivered to their door, without even having to step foot on the shop floor. Furthermore, cloud com- puting is the foundation of open Internet of Things platforms that connect systems, production cells and whole production sites, enabling manufacturers to integrate solutions into existing production work- flows. Companies can connect machine networks worldwide, making manufac- turing even more flexible and productive. The overlap of AM and cloud computing presents opportunities for cost-cutting, lead-time reduction and effective man- agement of resources for both consumers and producers.
The Factory of the Future
The expected combination of AM and hybrid-manufacturing chains will result in production platforms that can accel- erate the integration of 3D printing, resulting in smart production chains and agile Industry 4.0 factories able to adapt to changing market requirements and fluctuations.
Meanwhile, the human factor—the
ability of managers and engineers to adapt—remain essential to the success of AM as does a continuous commitment to educating and equipping future users to reimagine manufacturing and unlock new and meaningful applications for AM. While much has been accomplished, we’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to realizing the full extent of AM’s capabilities. 3DMP

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