OPINION: Additive manufacturing is estimated to hit $46 million by 2019
The emergence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0 has led to the emergence of four distinct capabilities. First, the capability to collect data from almost anything through sensors and IoT devices. Second, the capability to convert this data into meaningful information through technologies like Artificial Intelligence.
the capability that enhances human-digital interface through technologies like wearables and virtual reality.
And finally, Industry 4.0 has also brought the capability of seamless digital-physical transformation through robotics and additive manufacturing (AM) technologies like 3D printing. AM technologies are reshaping global value chains and hold the promise of new production capabilities.
For example, additive manufacturing of low volume, high complexity aerospace component used in jet engines, reduced single unit cost by 27 per cent compared to traditional manufacturing due to reduced material, shorter lead times, and elimination of fabrication.
Current revenues from products and services in 3D Printing are estimated to be at USD 3.9 and 5.3 billion. The US accounts for 36 per cent of the industrial 3DP units in use, with China, Japan and Germany accounting for 28 per cent of installed base.
The revenues are driven by five end-markets – industrial machines, consumer products/ electronics, automotive, medical and aerospace, which collectively account for about 80 per cent of the market. Across these industries, the end-uses include manufacturing of functional parts, jigs and fixtures, patterns for prototype tooling, metal casting and tooling components.
In India, additive manufacturing is estimated to hit $46 Mn in products and services by 2019 with a CAGR of around 20 per cent over the past 5 years. India currently accounts for only about 3 per cent of the AM installed base across Asia and Oceania combined, however, companies such as GE, Wipro and Intech are leading 3D printing adoption in the country.
With initiatives like “Make in India”, the domestic manufacturing sector is being supported by the national government, which will play a pivotal role in the growth of the local 3D printing industry. While the current market size may be small, the future has potentially many scenarios and the shape of industry depends on innovative new use cases of adoptions.
New avenues of AM adoption are emerging everyday with more industries and applications adopting AM. Currently, automotive and electronics industry lead both in terms of overall market share and growth of 3D adoption.
Within the automotive industry, OEMs and suppliers are primarily using AM for rapid prototyping within the R&D function, but the technical trajectory of AM makes a strong case for near-future application in product innovation and high-volume direct manufacturing. The convergence of product innovation and supply chain transformation has the potential to disrupt the operating models of automotive companies.
The first impact is to improve as-is processes by accelerating the design phase of new product development, enhancing quality by multiple rounds of testing of prototypes well in time and customizing fabrication of tooling to enhance productivity.
The second impact is on product innovation by reducing driving weight, through use of more complex designs and lighter materials, reducing assembly and production cost through part simplification (reducing number of parts per component) and enabling rapid customization of products and parts with reduced lead time and cost of customization.
The third impact is to explore reduction of after-market part inventory through distributed manufacturing (especially for cases where demand pattern is not uniform) and improving market responsiveness and reducing lead time for customization of accessories or high-performance parts.
Finally, overall disruptions in business model are expected as AM has the potential to boost the value creation share of OEMs and explore options for on-site fabrication to accelerate maintenance and repair for expensive components. The usage and adoption of 3D printing is increasing day by day.
For example, a large German OEM has shifted to 3D printing for manufacturing badge placement fixtures and hand tools used in testing and assembly. With fused deposition modeling technology, fixtures were produced in 1.5 days compared to 18 days earlier – a 92 per cent decrease in production time and a 72 per cent reduction in the part’s weight. The production cost also went down by 58 per cent.
Although AM technologies are rapidly evolving, few challenges must be overcome for AM to complement traditional manufacturing technologies for automotive industry. The economics of 3D printing are still limited to low-volume production. Automotive players must prioritize high-speed AM as an area of research. Low-cost AM technology that can support larger build sizes for metal parts should be another area of focus.
With increased penetration of AM, there will be a greater need for formal training and capability building within the organizations. There is also a growing concern that AM products can’t be copyrighted but must be patented based on obvious differentiation. An industry wide collaboration is required to develop clarity on what qualifies for patent protection to curb proliferation of counterfeit components.
Overall, AM and 3D Printing have the potential to disrupt automotive value chain, all the way from R&D to manufacturing and after sales. AM technologies, on their own or in combination of other Industry 4.0 technologies cannot just marginal improve current ways of working, but also allow organizations to leapfrog by altering business models, increasing value creation and shifting profit pools. Looking at the global trends and enormous potential, additive would be the true disruptive force in new age manufacturing.
(This author is a Principal with A.T. Kearney, India. He closely tracks global mega- trends in the automotive industry and disruptions caused due to digital technologies. He has also led the study with industry bodies SIAM, ACMA and their members to develop the Digital Transformation Roadmap for India’s Automotive Industry.)
(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETAuto.com does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETAuto.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.)