The technology behind 3D printing and Additive Manufacturing (AM) has futurists and designers drooling over the possibilities. It’s hard not to be excited after watching a 3D printer whirl around and build a house from scratch in a few hours or produce an artificial arm or leg. The possibilities are endless! That said, the applications for 3D printing and Additive Manufacturing that will take the technology mainstream aren’t quite as newsworthy but are still just as important. Slow Additive Manufacturing growth is an example of a common problem for many new-age technologies. After an initial burst of excitement over 3D printing in 2012 and 2013, the industry suffered a massive decline in popularity and is only just now reaching the same levels of 2012. Growth levels have significantly slowed after the initial burst. There are hundreds of potential applications for the technology, but an inability to be competitive on cost continues to prevent widespread adoption. An overall lack of manufacturers who can produce a part consistently and with no flaws also contributes to the slow Additive Manufacturing growth and minimal adoption.
Additive Manufacturing makes it easier to prototype or produce parts and tools for bigger manufacturing clients who make consumer goods and automotive parts. But it has faced a difficult road to full adoption and scale. Unfortunately, AM has not yet been able to match traditional machinery in overall speed and efficiency. The end-users of the small parts and tools that the AM industry can produce need their goods as quickly as possible. 3D printers must get faster to truly compete with the traditional machinery that most factories still use.
Autonomous Manufacturing advocates for the widespread adoption of AM, but even they see many factors contributing to slow Additive Manufacturing growth. The biggest hurdles include technological challenges, like inconsistency in materials and slow production speeds; computer software challenges; quality assurance issues, which can be attributed to a lack of centralized industry standards; and financial hurdles to getting an AM company off the ground.
The deck is stacked against Additive Manufacturing because many companies are not willing to make the investment or pay more for their products if the technology cannot compete with traditional methods. The best bet for strong growth in the AM space is for a company to establish themselves as the best producer in a specialized niche and gain a foothold on production.
Additive Manufacturers may have to advocate for themselves and sell the technology to spark another boom in popularity. Selling potential clients on the potential long-term benefits of early adoption can help, as well as stressing the continued innovation in the space. There are benefits that come with AM, like accelerated prototyping and custom toolmaking; however, these may not be obvious without a clear and concise sales pitch.
AM production floors can’t improve the technology and machinery used in 3D printing, but they do have the ability to make sure the equipment they are using is functioning to its fullest capacity and efficiency. Cloud-based software from Bluestreak | Bright AM can help Additive Manufacturers continue to grow and close the gap with their traditional competitors. AM might not be able to get faster until the printers and machines become more advanced, but the factories can become more efficient.
Bluestreak | Bright AM is software designed specifically for the Additive Manufacturing industry and can help drive growth. Bluestreak | Bright AM’s design is driven by the principle that AM is an industry all its own, with specific requirements. Bluestreak | Bright AM offers tools that provide more control of the production floor and workflow, incorporate quality management at every level (even down to individual operators on the floor), and follow an order all the way from entry to shipment.
Implementing Bluestreak | Bright AM can drive Additive Manufacturing growth by improving the business and making production more efficient. Key results include real-time control of 3D-printed parts to reduce nonconformance and scrap parts, intelligent planning for new work orders on the fly, scheduling, risk analysis and maintenance tied directly to production levels, job scheduling, and equipment specifications. Utilizing Bluestreak | Bright AM’s Production Pathway, managers and operators can visualize and analyze their production floor’s data.
With Bluestreak | Bright AM, Additive Manufacturers can address many holes in their production environment that slow growth and make them inefficient. In the cutthroat manufacturing world, they have to compete against established players who are often able to beat them on cost or speed of production. This software helps narrow the gap and can propel a new wave of growth for the AM industry.
If your service includes Additive Manufacturing, we provide specific solutions in our Bright AM software. To request an Additive Manufacturing software demo, click here!