3DC’s Additive Manufacturing Journey
3DC has noticed a pattern in the path organizations take when getting involved in additive manufacturing (AM) which we have named the “Additive Manufacturing Journey”. The AM Journey is characterized by four quadrants, or phases, that a business goes through while they mature in AM.
Phase 1, the Identification phase. This is where most organizations are when they first call us. They are interested in 3D printing because they have heard of the benefits of the technology and how disruptive it will be, but don’t know where they currently have opportunities that would be good candidates, or even what potential solutions would look like.
Phase 2 is the Prototyping phase. In this phase, an organization is reaping the benefits of using AM to 3D print prototypes which reduce design cycle time and expense.
In Phase 3, which is known as the Tooling phase, organizations are not only using 3D printing for prototyping, but also using it to create tooling and work aids in the form of jigs and fixtures. This cuts process time and costs by streamlining.
Finally in Phase 4, the Production phase, organizations are redesigning parts entirely around a 3D printed solution and are able to yield savings by having custom products that can be made just in time or products with reduced assembly requirements. Companies like GE Aviation, Stryker Orthopedics, and Siemens are currently in phase 4 of the additive manufacturing journey.
There is a 5th Phase that we don’t show in the figure, and it’s called the AM Equipment Development phase. This phase is most notably reached when a company actually starts developing its own AM equipment lines for the purpose 3D printing their products. Very few companies have reached this stage, but they do exist and are usually quite confidential.