The potential benefits of the adoption of additive manufacturing technologies are huge. This technology provides the capability to transform and enhance product development and production in a wide range of sectors and applications. It can enable the reconfiguring of supply chains allowing production close to the point of consumption and deliver the benefits of mass customisation.

Many of the wide-ranging benefits when adopting additive manufacturing can be understood further in the boxes below:

Product function attributes

Ability to design parts with geometric features that cannot be made any other way; allowing design freedom to create products with enhanced functionality such as air flow.
As tooling isn’t required for AM parts, each part can be tailored to its specific use, or user. This can create mass customisation from sunglasses to cars.
As AM matures, materials will be specifically designed for use in these processes, leading to parts with improved materials properties such as toughness or wear resistance.
AM enables parts to be designed and manufactured as one part due to design freedom, leading to reduced part counts and assembly costs.

Product supply attributes

AM builds components layer by layer to final geometry resulting in significant material savings.
As tooling isn’t required, parts can be manufactured in hours/days. Furthermore, rapid design iterations can be realised without expensive outlay on tooling.
AM can be used as an ‘on demand’ service, where parts are produced just ahead of when they are needed. This negates the need to hold extensive (and costly) product stocks.
AM can offer significant through-life benefits of traditional manufacturing processes for a wide range of products and production volumes.

How simple is additive manufacturing

A reality check

There is a significant opportunity for companies to improve their competitiveness by successfully adopting AM. However, the process is not as simple as it is often portrayed. 

The entire process from part design and production, to inspection and certification needs to be considered before the process can be successfully deployed.

A common view of the AM process

In reality...

The National Centre for Additive Manufacturing helps companies through their entire AM journey. We can provide advice and solutions for the whole process, from intial designs to product delivery, and even factory implementation, irrespective of your previous experience in AM.

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