By Kjetil Guldhaug
A lot of people approach me asking if a specific part can be produced with additive manufacturing and what the cost would be, often it is a part that is very simple to produce with traditional options, resulting in the answer being that its too expensive.
Mass production of a part can be done very efficiently with traditional means of manufacture, and a lot of parts will not benefit from being produced in any other way.
Some of the questions you should be asking
Can the part be made lighter with additive manufacturing?
Does the weight impact the end use of the part and is it beneficial that it is lighter? if its for the aerospace industri it has a clear value, if its for a heavy machine you might want to have the weight or it does not matter.
Can several parts be consolidated into one?
If so, would you save money and time on assembly? would you be able to give the end user a better product? would you reduce costs by having less parts in your management systems and on stock? would less parts mean shorter lead times? maybe even less risk of things breaking down?
Can the part be designed smarter to utilize it in a better way?
If it can add benefits like lower fuel consumption, better flow of liquids or gases etc., how would that impact you?
Can the part be made smaller?
Could you make a hydraulic block with the same possibilities but maybe half the size because of being able to make the holes go anyway you want?
Are tooling costs high and would reducing or removing the need for tooling be beneficial?
in many cases you have a low volume of parts, complex parts or parts requiring several stages of production before finished.
These are just a few possible scenarios, there are many ways that additive manufacturing can impact your business.
What are the criterias for the end part?
Many people are very stuck on that this part has to be made with this material, and not looking at the criterias that the part has to fulfil. The materials from additive manufacturing is sometimes quite different than those of traditional manufacturing, but that does not always mean there is no option for the part you want to produce.
Looking at the criterias and/or specifications of the part, can make the materials from additive manufacturing match up quite well to common production materials, this goes for both plastics and metals.
Looking at which capabilities the additive manufacturing solution your products need is the key to success here, there is a jungle of solutions and technologies out there and to choose which is the correct one for you might be a pain, considering all the options and possibilities that are available.
Which are the most common criterias?
- Material quality?
- Available materials?
- Operating costs?
- Material costs?
- Initial investment?
- Ease of use?
To be able to choose the right solution, you have to look at a business case on a part or a set of parts, looking at redesign, reducing stock inventory, faster production, less costly production or other means of making the benefits exceed the cost of aquisition.
In too many cases the budget is the key criteria, and that limits the potential for a positive return of investment quite a lot.
If the budget is the leading criteria you might end up with a shovel, when what you really need to get the job done is an excavator.
I can gladly help you build a business case, and suggest what solutions would be most suited for you, please write or call me if you have questions!
Kjetil Guldhaug – Business Development Manager 3D print
+47 911 42 068