A continuous production line, operating 24/7, needs to have a high reliability and maintenance control to be competitive and efficient. When something stop or a part breaks, all the production stops and could represent a huge cost for the company. This problem can have two solutions, both with some positive and negative points. Adopting high end quality materials can improve the reliability and reduce maintenance costs, but when the line has a problem, time and costs for resolution are higher. If “regular” materials are used in the production line, the maintenance costs are higher, the downtime can be reduced, but can also have consequences on product quality. One way to improve this negative points stated is additive manufacturing or 3D printing.

 

3d printer

Additive manufacturing is 3D printing applied to industrial sector. It consists in building 3D objects, adding layer-upon-layer of material. There are some different technologies around additive manufacturing, all highly developed that involves laser, jet and injection to build the pieces. They have different precision grades, different materials to build and each of them needs to be carefully analyzed for each industrial sector.Spare parts built with additive manufacturing can be created with extreme design flexibility, with a reduced number of resources and with a 30% or more reduction in lead time. Create a new spare part to substitute a broken one in minutes is not a thing from the future, it’s happening today!

3d printed vehicle
Research around additive manufacturing has been made in the last decades and the outcome have really started in 2010. The major industrial world players are already using additive manufacturing in their industrial processes and it’s a matter of time to be extended to all industrial processes. In 2014, 1/3 of the industrial machinery investment made in USA is around 3D printing. It is expected that additive manufacturing market can multiply by four it’s revenues until 2020, to more than 20 billion euros. This is a very trending and present matter that cannot be left behind by any industrial company.