3D printing: what manufacturing CxOs need to consider now
In PAC’s latest report “3D printing in manufacturing – use cases, maturity and outlook”, PAC provides an overview of the major use cases for 3D printing technologies applied in manufacturing industries. We also make an assessment of the maturity and speed of adoption for various manufacturing sub-segments. The report in particular highlights what manufacturing CxOs need to consider when starting to evaluate the potential that 3D printing has for their business operations. Find a short summary of the report in this blog.
What are the currently major use cases for 3D printing technologies applied in manufacturing industries? What is the maturity of 3D printing technologies in various manufacturing sub-segments? And, what speed of adoption of 3D printing technologies do we expect?
In a recently published report we answer these questions from our point of view, having had numerous conversations with manufacturers and IT vendors around this topic in the past months.
In the report we will not be looking into the technological aspects of 3D printing techniques, even though we of course acknowledge that the adoption of 3D printing technology in manufacturing will strongly depend on how fast the related technologies advance – for example, technologies that relate to speed, quality and other properties, such as the size of printing chambers or multi-material printing capabilities.
Major steps that need to be taken in order to make 3D printing more broadly accepted for industry use relate to building up appropriate knowledge and skills in this area and also to creating end-to-end integrated processes which cover material management and handling, 3D equipment management, generative design and engineering, the handover of 3D CAD files to 3D production, post-processing, finishing, testing, assembly, and quality inspection of products and components being produced.
Manufacturing CxOs, such as those in R&D & engineering, manufacturing operations & supply chain, and logistics, need to start evaluating the potential that 3D printing has for their business operations. This is particularly important because major use cases for 3D printing can currently be seen in areas like design and engineering, prototyping, small series production, and spare parts management, with corresponding implications for the respective business units. At the same time, the CIO organization needs to make sure it has the capabilities and knowledge to not only implement appropriate technical applications but also to facilitate the end-to-end integration into the existing R&D application landscape in order to achieve a seamless handover from design to engineering to printing to finishing in order to reduce the need for manual work and to further automate the entire process.
Pursuing an end-to-end integration of processes and related applications is in fact the “comfort zone” of C&SI providers, so building up knowledge and skills will be crucial for them as well, and the more the demand for 3D printing increases, the more important it will also become for C&SIs to build up an appropriate ecosystem of specialist 3D printing solution partners to also address specific requirements.