Additive Manufacturing

NOV 2018

ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING is the magazine devoted to industrial applications of 3D printing and digital layering technology. We cover the promise and the challenges of this technology for making functional tooling and end-use production parts.

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Page 7 of 75

NOVEMBER 2018 Additive Manufacturing Something to Add 6 The Trajectory toward Bigness Additive manufacturing is changing the shape of manufactured parts. We've covered this (see page 72, for example). Similarly, it is making possible new options in materials. Now, given AM's continued advance, it is time to begin consider- ing something broader: how AM will change the shape of and encourage new options for manufacturing organizations. That is the theme of our coverage this month. Articles in this issue describe a regional association (page 16), supplier collaboration (page 64) and a new business model (page 20) all built around AM. In each of these cases, people are organizing themselves in a new or different way to better advance or leverage additive. Could it be that these various groups and companies are all onto something? Dartmouth College business professor Richard D'Aveni, in his new book, The Pan-Industrial Revolution, takes a long view on additive manufacturing to speculate on the very different type of manufacturing firm likely to result from the maturing of this technology. His central insight: Additive manufacturing wants to be big. That is, AM's use will favor bigger and bigger manu- facturers—albeit big in a way we have not seen before. Whereas manufacturers in the past thrived on economies of scale (redundant parts, high volumes) additive manufacturers will thrive on something different: economies of scope. By using their AM resources to serve an ever-broader mix of industries, additive manufacturers will become big by means of this very breadth. In fact, D'Aveni argues they'll become huge. Why does additive favor bigness, and bigness by breadth? Here are some of the reasons I find most compelling: 1. Lack of dedicated resources. Traditional manufacturers tend to serve certain industry sectors because they have equip- ment or knowledge suited to that sector—types of machinery, expertise or tooling acquired for the work in that field. AM is not characterized by this kind of dedication. Two sets of parts for two very different industries can be made on the same machine and maybe even in the same build. A new book speculates on the coming transition from economies of scale to economies of scope. Peter Zelinski / EDITOR-IN-CHIEF 2. Consolidation of operations. Another obstacle to serving various industries is that the supply chains tend to be differ- ent. But because of the way AM generates a nearly complete, complex part that might consolidate what used to require different organizations for casting, machining and assembly, the length and impact of supply chains is significantly reduced. As a result, with additive, there is far less bureaucracy cost for serving many sectors. 3. Material savings. An AM operation able to get dramati- cally bigger would get more cost-effective as a result because of the advantage it could command in material pricing. For this reason, D'Aveni sees manufacturers coming to specialize by material rather than by industry. Imagine a company with a dispersed array of plants full of additive machines that all run the same metal alloy. For work requiring this specific metal, this firm's buying power could give it a raw material cost lower than that of any competitor. 4. Machine learning. Another powerful effect: Big scope equals big data. We have covered the way AM is distinctively poised to benefit from the application of machine learning (see In a company marshaling more additive machines to serve more industries, machine learning will have more data to work with and therefore will be more effective at improving efficiency. Bigness will produce better artificial intelligence for directing the company's processes. D'Aveni's book goes further than this, speculating on the nature of a world where production is dominated by massive pan-industrial additive manufacturing titans. We are still far from that world. But I am struck by the tiny trajectory already noticeable in the articles in this issue. While the stories are different, the solution in each case is roughly the same: The way to advance AM is to gather together.

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