Design for Additive Manufacturing: the basics & the benefits

By February 5, 2024 No Comments

3D printing parts locally offers significant advantages over traditional manufacturing. It can reduce Lead Times by up to 95% and potentially result in substantial cost savings. However, (re)designing your parts for Additive Manufacturing can even further enhance these benefits, allowing you to fully optimize your resources. Want to learn more? In this article, we’ll provide you with the basics and benefits!

Traditional versus Additive Manufacturing
What sets these different ways of manufacturing apart? Traditional manufacturing subtracts material: it involves cutting away material from blocks to create parts, which can be costly, time-consuming, and wasteful. Often done non-locally, it also faces high Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) issues, resulting in overstock, and high expenses.

Additive Manufacturing (AM) revolutionizes this entire way of working. This is due, in part, to the layer-by-layer construction of items. In this process, there is no unnecessary material waste, and there’s no need to maintain excessive inventory. You print precisely what you need, when you need it, wherever it’s required. The results? Less inventory, lower Lead Times and lower costs.

Design for Additive Manufacturing
But there’s more. Of course, you have the option to digitize a traditional part, create a digital twin, and then 3D print that exact part. However, you can gain way more benefits by specifically (re)designing the part for AM.

This involves exploring different, smarter ways to design parts, which may result in using even less material or a more efficient design. Additionally, through redesign, you can make traditional parts that were previously unprintable, printable.

Benefits of Design for Additive Manufacturing
(Re)designing for AM offers several significant advantages for producing your parts. Let’s briefly outline them for you:

– Improved part design: When specifically redesigning parts for AM, you can create stronger, lighter, and more durable components by, for example, using materials that aren’t used in traditional manufacturing.
– Complex shapes: Due to layer-by-layer printing, you’re not constrained by complexity. Creating a complex shape by subtracting material is much more challenging than 3D printing an exact part.
– Consolidating assemblies into single parts: Components that typically require assembly before use, can be reengineered into a single, printable mono part.
– Lowering production cost: By redesigning traditional parts with a different, hollow structure, less metarial in the production process is needed, bringing down the production cost throughout the remaining lifetime of the part.
– Mass customization: Customizing parts in traditional manufacturing can be prohibitively expensive. When designing for AM, customization is much easier. For example, custom engraving each part with a unique indent may not add to the price, and in fact may result in less material and less cost!

How to start: our end-to-end AI-based analytics
In any case, it’s worth considering AM and (re)design for AM in your supply chain. Unsure where to start? Take a look at our end-to-end AM analytics tool. With this tool, you can analyse your supply chain and current part production, instantly identifying which parts are suitable for 3D printing and the benefits this offers.

Additionally, the tool employs Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to automatically determine which parts qualify for (re)design for AM and the additional advantages this can bring.

Curious? Schedule a demo and we’ll show you exactly how your supply chain can benefit!