Thought Leadership

Harnessing the advantages of additive manufacturing

By Blake Snodgrass

Is your company ready for industrial-scale additive manufacturing?

Manufacturers speak of prototyping and 3D printing, but industrial-scale additive manufacturing, or ISAM, goes one step further to become real parts in production for customers to consume.

The market for prototyping is exhaustive. Analysts estimate the current additive manufacturing market to be worth $7 billion, and it’s expected to increase by 25 percent while tripling itself within the next five years.

The promise of additive manufacturing is a reconfiguration of your system into a repeatable, reliable set of processes.

Many larger companies are entering industrial-scale additive manufacturing, but few have fully arrived – and Siemens is one of those companies. There’s a facility in Finspang, Sweden that is living proof of the concept of the modern factory and building parts on-demand.

Additive manufacturing – a new business model

Additive manufacturing has the potential to change how companies do business and create a new business model at multiple levels. Products will look differently because of manufacturing capabilities which were previously not possible and be more lightweight and durable with complex structures, as well as having the ability to build part-by-parts – making modifications to each part without disrupting the manufacturing production process.

To implement this new process, production manufacturers must reinvent how they design and develop products that fit into this revised configuration. With this new design comes new issues of internal products versus outsourcing, while also the decision to engage with new prospects to fully develop your process.

Experts are crucially needed to make this transition.

Change in manufacturing is necessary

The purest vision of this entire process is change – the holy grail of manufacturing. The whole process is being redefined, but once you harness your capabilities and have expertise in those areas, you can achieve a new level of business.

Moreover, companies are looking to harness this technology. Otherwise, they can get caught sticking to what they know because it’s working and may have always worked; in return, they reduce both their capital and production designs by not manufacturing parts and products they could otherwise make with new technology. This limitation reduces your value to the market and your customers.


Additive manufacturing – cost worth the benefit

Additive manufacturing is still costly, and it’s not always easy to demonstrate the return on investment. Part of this high expense is it being such a new, innovative technology. However, one significant advantage of additive manufacturing is that it can help you eventually eliminate the need for retooling or storing large sums of inventory or spare parts of your product in-house. Most companies produce products that usually require ongoing maintenance, therefore requiring you to have storehouses or warehouses full of parts and products, as well as shipping costs.

However, with the capabilities digitalization can offer in support of the benefits of additive manufacturing, you can store the product or part digitally and ship it via an app to deliver the product as needed to a 3D printer – giving you the option to eventually reduce your inventory to zero. This is a mind-blowing paradigm to traditional protocols for large-scale manufacturing.

Additive manufacturing – reaching future implementation

How will 3D printing grow to industrial-scale usage? Materials need to grow, and quality needs to improve. A large portion of printing is failing, but knowledge is accumulating, and quality information is being collected. Moreover, those companies with a great story are building ecosystems that combine all necessary elements for success to harness the domain of this captivating technology.

Listen to our podcast series about this exciting topic from Dean Haehnel, director of marketing for Siemens Additive Manufacturing, and Robert Meshel, director of the Siemens Additive Manufacturing Network initiative as they discuss additive manufacturing via our podcast series, covering several areas:

    • The hype and reality of additive manufacturing
    • The risks and opportunities of industrial-scale additive manufacturing
    • Jumpstarting additive manufacturing via ISAM, and
    • Where do you start? Potential use cases and determining how additive manufacturing is right for you.

The full podcast series is available on Soundcloud, Stitcher, and iTunes.

About the author:
Blake Snodgrass
 is a writer for the Thought Leadership team in Siemens PLM Software, which supports several venues, including the Thought Leadership blog for the company. He speaks with experts in their field who provide compelling insight into innovative technologies affecting industries and how this can impact the future. Blake has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications and more than 25 years of experience working for IT companies, with roles in technical writing, marketing communications, user-experience design and content development.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at