With almost 30 Years of traditional and additive manufacturing expertise through the whole order to delivery spectrum, I wanted to deliver a few points for consideration as you evaluate your entry into 3D Printing/Additive manufacturing.

These are perspectives and opinions, and every organization has different cost considerations that make them unique.

In general, if you have engineering and product development and you aren’t using 3D Printing for rapid prototyping, tool design, and for scale modeling you are behind and probably leaving money on the table. It’s cheap. You can tinker without breaking the bank. You can visualize the manufacturing, you can validate tooling, etc.

Some general areas to help quantify bottom line wins on moving production parts to 3D Printing

Price to Price: Nice wins when you can find them. Usually you need to look for other value components for decision making.

Some of those places to look may be:

1). High Tooling Cost: If this asset can be avoided consider this into your value proposition.

2). High Minimum Order Quantities: Cash value of idle inventory. Maybe not much at a unit value, but it adds up.

3). High Freight cost: Much like capitalized tooling depreciation rates, beware of normalized costs for freight spread out across the population. Know how much it really costs to land your target parts!

4). Take it to the assembly level: While the component part may not be attractive on its’ own, can you move up the BOM and get a win by printing at the assembly level and reducing your part population and elimination of associated fab or assembly costs.

Here’s a quick example of some aluminum fuel manifold parts we did for the military.

While this example was a slam dunk, they are tougher to find across the broader industry spectrum. We are seeing some good wins by providing parts to support older manufacturing processes and obsolete parts.

  • Low demand parts had a surge
  • Supplier had exited the business
  • Cost and Lead time for tooling was prohibitive
  • 6 months reduced to one week!
  • Part cost lower and tooling avoided!
  • Customer kept critical flight assets operational!

Obsolete battery cover. FDM with NinjaFlex

-Large battery manufacturer needed process replacement covers. NinjaFlex was the answer. Printed on Fusion3 F-400

Old Process Line for Fortune 100 Company needed replacement parts, and couldn’t get them.  Answer was FDM ABS Parts. The company has since added 3D capability to their maintenance and tool room.

Parts were cheap, but the ability to keep the process going was a huge win!

I could throw some old BMW, Chevy, and Lamborghini parts, but I think you get the idea. There is opportunity and I hope my perspectives help you find your own bottom line wins.

I will finish with some thoughts on the future of the broader metal AM Industry. I think it’s the end of the beginning for AM. With a World-Wide production parts market in the Trillions of dollars what will happen as:

1). Material Costs Decrease? – Check out the Armstrong process, GKN, and the increase in powdered metal production.

2). Material Properties Increase? – The pace of innovation in improving AM materials is like drinking from a fire hose

3). SLS/SLM Printer Envelopes Increase? – Larger parts, More parts per print, with the SLS/SLM quality

4). SLS/SLM Speeds Increase? – Higher capacity=higher value prop

5). Innovations occur in eliminating secondary process time? – Less operations=less cost=higher value prop

6). More OEM’s enter the metal machine printing market? – Competition to drive capital machinery prices down

With AM, AI, Robotics, Scanning, etc. all surging, disruption will occur at a greater pace. So when do you jump all into AM for production? Maybe never. Maybe you have plenty of capability and capacity with existing equipment.

What are you going to do with your equipment when the design below  moves from the left to the right?

Thanks for letting me throw out some perspectives and opinions. Fun times ahead!

Message me, and I will see where we can help.

Onward! Stay curious and bothered with your current state.

Hoffer