Thought Leadership

Additive manufacturing – not just for prototyping

By Blake Snodgrass

A recent article in AutomationWorld states, “Additive manufacturing is no longer just for prototypes. Its increasing popularity and technical capabilities have pushed it into position to change the way manufacturers manage their spare parts inventory.” (Source: AutomationWorld, by Aaron Hand, Executive Editor).

Innovations expand while manufacturing goals remain on par

While innovative technologies like additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, have significantly impacted the industry over the past decade, and are moving into the mainstream, the goals of manufacturing remain the same: minimizing downtime, decreasing costs and removing unnecessary processes.

Additive manufacturing’s charm is witnessing the benefits of time and cost savings daily. Moreover, its shining glory is designing impossible design configurations, consolidating components and transforming parts production management.

Also, when a system needs repairs, downtime is a detriment to time and cost, especially when a part is not available. However, additive manufacturing remedies this effectively via reverse engineering or digitalization.

3D printing companies

With surging printing technology advancements, which are continuously upgrading with new materials and software management via a holistic end-to-end workflow, comes the transformation of parts creation. So, companies like Fast Radius, are tapping into 3D printing service innovations by creating areas of expertise via additive manufacturing in controlling supply chains to deliver products to their consumers.

Also, a company named, Moog, is focusing on motion control to provide replacement parts (using 3D printing) and providing them quickly, within the vicinity of need. They have partnered with other high-profile companies in demonstrating innovations to the aerospace industry by simulating damage that can occur to airplane cabins while flying. So, when it’s discovered that a part is needed while a plane is en route, it’s digitally sourced to the destination airport, so upon arrival, the part is ready and waiting – negating any waste of time or money.

The aerospace industry is just one of many that are ripe for using additive manufacturing, with the ability to print lightweight parts quickly and effectively.

Our engineers have been trained in how to design specifically for additive manufacturing, it is a whole different way of thinking about how you design parts because of the flexibility and some limitations the technology gives you,” says Bill Massaro, Director of advanced manufacturing for Moog.

Moreover, engineers are necessary for every step in this additive manufacturing process.

additive-manufacturing-1000px.jpgAdditive manufacturing benefits

Expertise is a requirement

There’s more to 3D printing than merely pressing the print button. To have the expertise available within a company is rare and cost-prohibitive. Therefore, engineering experts are required throughout the parts manufacturing process via additive manufacturing.

Companies like Siemens have this expertise, providing an end-to-end additive solution with vast experience to back up their knowledge. A factory in Finspäng, Sweden is revolutionizing the printing of turbine burner heads via additive manufacturing to consolidate a 13-piece part into one, resulting in a streamlined design that’s more robust, with thinner burner walls and lattice structures for resiliency at higher temperatures. Producing parts faster, with quality at scale via innovative design, is making Finspäng a showcase for modern manufacturing.

3D printing via additive manufacturing is revolutionizing the contemporary manufacturing industry, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. More technological advancements are occurring within major manufacturing companies daily.

Learn more about this compelling topic from the referenced article by Aaron Hand of AutomationWorld.

This concludes our discussion detailing the rising surge of 3D printing production and prototyping via additive manufacturing, with excerpts from AutomationWorld. Providing solutions for where today meets tomorrow.

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