The 3 Additive Manufacturing Challenges: How to Overcome

Additive manufacturing (AM) is one of the most trending areas in production that allows creating three-dimensional objects of metal, plastic, ceramics, etc. according to a predetermined design. AM finds its application in all kinds of niches, from medicine to the aerospace industry.
Over the next four years, the additive manufacturing market is expected to grow to the value of $35 billion, according to 3D Hubs' 2020 3D Printing Trends Report. Every 3 years, the market is expected to double in size, with yearly additive manufacturing growth predicted to be around 23.5%.
Market share of global additive manufacturing players

Why Aren't All Companies Able to Implement 3D Printing?

Indeed, the benefits of additive manufacturing open wide horizons for the creation of absolutely any 3D shapes. On the other hand, not every company has the ability to quickly and affordably integrate this type of activity into its business processes. Here are the most common causes that hinder the bright future of additive manufacturing.

High costs

The average price for AM equipment ranges from $300,000 to 1.5 million USD. The cost of consumables for industrial needs varies from $100 to 150 USD per piece (although the final price is formed after choosing the material: plastic, for example, is the most budget-friendly option). The modeling process is also accompanied by serious time costs: it usually takes more than an hour to print 40 cm of material.

How to overcome
this problem?

To cope with this 3D challenge, you need to develop a long-term implementation strategy that would be based on the manufacturing-as-a-service model to share the costs of equipment, software, maintenance, and repairs. Such on-demand production allows you to reduce the manufacturing costs and speed up product development.

Besides, low-cost printers that use inexpensive welding wire appeared on the 3D printing market not long ago. Priced at $1,200, they might be the right choice for your needs.

Due to the emergence of new suppliers on the market and the increase of investments in developing low-cost materials, experts predict the prices of materials will go down in the nearest future.
To cope with this 3D challenge, you need to develop a long-term implementation strategy that would be based on the manufacturing-as-a-service model to share the costs of equipment, software, maintenance, and repairs.
Lack of experienced professionals

Unfortunately, there is a distinct lack of specialists who know how to use 3D printers in the context of production and how to automate updated work processes. The challenges are real: the population of seasoned manufacturing talent is aging and reluctant to adapt to new design paradigms, the younger workforce has little interest in manufacturing, and there are skills gaps around leveraging AM technologies.

71% of companies admit they have opted for traditional methods over 3D printing for particular projects because of the lack of knowledgeable specialists.

How to overcome
this problem?

The surest thing additive manufacturing companies can do is to start training their staff right now. This can be done through express courses on remote learning websites, traditional universities, or professional establishments such as the US National Additive Manufacturing Institute and the European ADMIRE initiative.

Then, of course, you will also have to offer several additive manufacturing jobs to find the main technologists: either as on-site staff or outsourced. They will supervise all activities of newly trained employees and help them to transfer the understanding of the benefits of this technology into 3d printing designs and finished products.
Professional background in 3D printing and AM industry
New quality compliance rules

Technologies of 3D printing and CNC production for manufacturing are constantly changing and improving, that's why set standards and requirements for 3D printed products do not exist. At the same time, solutions created using 3D printing cannot always compare with solutions created using more traditional technologies in terms of quality, durability and strength. Let's say, a customer orders a 3D printed mechanical part. Will they be able to order 500 of these parts a few months later, absolutely identical? It's the consistency requirements, as well as post-processing of the products, that may affect the results negatively. Therefore, in some cases, in the confrontation of 3D printing vs traditional manufacturing, the latter wins.

How to overcome
this problem?

You can try to create a list of standards for your products made with the help of a 3D printer on your own, to make sure it is not inferior in quality to traditional products.

In addition, you can use the ANSI AMSC and America Makes standards, which formalize the quality criteria of products made using 3D printing.
Globalluxsoft is an expert in the development of platforms and solutions in the additive manufacturing services industry, and we can help you realize your business idea. Want to share your thoughts on additive manufacturing challenges and the problems of their implementation in production? Let us know.
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