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October 14, 2019 | Posted in:

Manufacturing Trends – Additive Manufacturing

I enjoy working with manufacturing companies. Some of my more successful clients have been people that had an idea and literally made it a reality. As I’ve followed the industry over the years, I’ve noticed some trends within it. Much like the industrial revolution changed how things were made in the 18th and 19th centuries, similar changes are going on right now. Artificial intelligence, robotics, and technological advancement are just a few of the things making an impact on the industry.

One result of these changes is the advancement of additive manufacturing. If you’re not familiar with it, get ready to learn some pretty cool stuff about this technique and how it will impact the industry for years to come.

 

Traditional vs Additive Manufacturing

 

Let’s talk about traditional manufacturing techniques before we talk about what additive manufacturing is. Basically, there have been four primary ways to make something: casting/molding, machining, joining, and shearing/forming. All of these techniques are pretty labor intensive and involve taking material and removing pieces into a finished shape or size.

For example, if you wanted to make a crankshaft for a car it would involve heating up a block of metal and forging it into shape which is then trimmed, drilled, sanded, and checked for proper balancing. A lot of work goes into that crankshaft. What if we could just build the crankshaft in one solid piece? Wouldn’t that be a faster approach? The answer is yes, and that’s exactly what additive manufacturing does.

This isn’t exactly a new development in the manufacturing process; it’s been around for awhile. However, it’s become more popular as technology has improved. Additive manufacturing is a process that uses computer aided design software to program machinery and build a product by depositing material in a specific shape or pattern. In simple terms, it’s like 3D printing the product rather than going through the long process that traditional manufacturing requires. The computer software builds the product by adding material layer by layer, bonding each layer through a heating process with a laser. Using this approach, the product will be made faster, stronger, and lighter than traditionally manufactured products.

Here’s a brief video illustrating the process:

 


 

How Can Additive Manufacturing Be Applied?

 

Additive manufacturing processes can pretty much be applied across all industries, but there are some where it’s more suitable than others. Two that jump out in my mind are the aerospace and healthcare industries. The aerospace industry requires the highest quality from its components. Additive manufacturing can meet those standards with the added benefit of reduced weight, which saves on energy costs. NASA has even begun testing 3D printed parts for use in its rockets. In the healthcare industry, people are turning science fiction into a reality. What if doctors could just grab a fabricated heart for someone going through heart failure? Scientists are trying to make that a reality by using additive manufacturing with biomaterials meant to replicate living tissue. Harvard’s Wyss Institute has been using additive manufacturing techniques to develop an artificial heart.

 

 

Additive manufacturing is a process meant to build products from the ground up. It’s effective in building durable, lightweight products for use in all industries with a faster production time. To learn more about how you can apply this technique to your manufacturing business, contact Alloy Silverstein here to schedule a meeting with one of our manufacturing industry professionals.

 

Author:

Associate Partner
 
Ren III provides tax, accounting, and advisory services to a broad range of clients, with a specialty for manufacturers, title insurance companies, and professional service providers.
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JB Financial Associates is now Alloy Silverstein.
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