Why Additive Manufacturing is a Must for Industry 4.0
• Additive Manufacturing, or 3D printing technology, is one of the key factors in determining which manufacturers will be able to compete and succeed in the age of Industry 4.0.
• The advantages of 3D printing technology include cost reduction, resource-saving, sustainability, prototype testing, and acceleration of new innovations.
• The market for 3D will nearly triple in size by 2026 and the key focus will be the development of high-performance materials.
As more businesses and manufacturers begin to transform towards Industry 4.0, additive manufacturing or more widely known as 3D printing technology is also increasing in popularity as it allows more flexibility in the production chain.
Additive Manufacturing refers to the creation of a 3D object based on a computer-generated model (often created in CAD or similar programs) depending on the type of printer used. It is also often printed in layers to result in a final 3D form.
Today, 3D printing has moved beyond the hype over the past decade and has become truly useful in the manufacturing industry. One of the first manufacturing industries to adopt this technology on a wide scale is the automotive industry where different parts and prototypes are designed are produced in 3D before being finalized for actual mass production.
3D printing technology is one of the turning points for Industry 4.0 because it offers new avenues for innovation and customization. It also encourages the discovery of new materials that can increase manufacturing competitiveness. Obviously, 3D printing is very useful for prototyping and testing new products in the automotive, electronics, medical devices manufacturing, aerospace, garment and textile, and many more industries.
This unique technology allows manufacturers to push their limits at lower costs, creates less waste, and helps enable resource optimization before manufacturers commit to mass production that is more cost-heavy. It is very useful in the R&D stage, and cuts down a few days of lead time in finding the mold and die for parts manufacturing. Moreover, it enables customizability and adaptability toward fast-changing trends. As it accelerates innovations, products can be put out in the market faster.
In addition, the applications of 3D printing technology are almost limitless since it can produce replacements for broken machine parts or custom molds to accommodate different and diverse customer orders. The technology is also poised to advance rapidly as more and more manufacturers invest in flexible and fast high-end 3D printing technologies.
On another note, it is worth mentioning that businesses that can respond quickly to market demands with the best quality products and the best value will have a higher chance of winning. This is the undeniable advantage that 3D printing will offer.
Furthermore, since additive manufacturing is already a more sustainable production method, it is suitable for the manufacturing industry in the 4.0 era where it is necessary to take into account the principles of ESG, the concept of sustainable corporate development.
In conclusion, additive manufacturing not only has the potential to transform the landscape of product development and manufacturing, it will also offer a key missing piece for sustainability across industries.
“Hubs”, the on-demand manufacturing platform, has released its latest 3D printing trends report, which tracks the developments and emerging trends in the 3D printing industry. The report found that the market for 3D printing from 2021 to 2022 has grown by approximately 19.8%, or already the same as the pre-pandemic level. It is also estimated that the growth for this market will triple by 2026, with revenues expected to reach $44.5 billion. In the future, the trend will move toward the development of high-performance 3D printing materials such as refractory metals, ceramics, high-temperature polymers (thermal and chemical resistant), and composites (compounds of two or more chemical compositions with different structures and properties).
Those interested in 3D printing technology can learn more about the relevant machinery and solutions at the special zone Additive Manufacturing, as well as meet up with world-class technology providers at METALEX 2023, during 22-25 November 2023, at BITEC, Bangkok.