VIDEO: The Future of Additive and Subtractive Manufacturing
Isaac Maw posted on September 22, 2017 |
JABIL Business Development Leader on 3D printing’s potential in the industrial market.

We all know 3D printing is a powerful tool with great potential. However, the best use for 3D printing in manufacturing is still contested. Some herald it as a total replacement for mass production: you want something, you print it. Others see it as a useful prototyping tool with little viability on the production floor. But what is 3D printing’s place, really?

To answer that, we asked Rush LaSelle, director of digital manufacturing at JABIL inc. With 175,000 employees worldwide, JABIL is a massive multi-sector company that specializes in design engineering, supply chain management and logistics and manufacturing.

According to LaSelle, identifying the value in emerging technologies is essential to gaining an advantage in the marketplace. Correctly applying leading technology can make your products better and help them get to market faster.

So, where does additive manufacturing fit in? 

Additive manufacturing may never be able to match the low cost or speed of injection molding (yes, companies like HP are working on making the process faster), but additive has other advantages over other production processes.

 Additive Advantage: Mass Customization

3D printing doesn’t require molds or special tooling.

Consider two custom medical implants, such as dentures: each print takes basically the same time to produce, whether the machine prints two identical pieces or two totally different pieces, since you aren’t cutting metal for injection molding.

Quickly and cheaply producing customized products in this way is a huge opportunity, and we’re seeing it happen with companies like FitStation.

 Additive Advantage: Reducing Batch Size

Distributing manufacturing helps get products to market faster. 3D printing can help take manufacturing out of monolithic factories overseas and bring it closer to home.

For example, printing car parts right next to the production line could reduce warehousing and inventory costs.

 Additive Advantage: De-Risking

With injection molding, design failures are expensive. With 3D printing, you can produce multiple iterations in the time it would take to cut a new mold. This opens up opportunities for designers to try new things and explore the limitations of the technology.

The Role of Additive in the Production Process

So, what is the rightful place of additive manufacturing?

According to Rush LaSelle, additive may never replace injection molding in applications requiring high volumes of identical parts. However, as designers and engineers explore the full potential of the technology, we will find the optimal role of 3D printing in industrial manufacturing.

If you liked this video, click here to watch our exclusive interview with HP chief engineer Chandrakant Patel.


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