On last 13 November 2019, the Luxembourg Centre for Logistics and Supply Chain Management (LCL) of the University of Luxembourg had invited to a roundtable on metal additive manufacturing.
Guest expert was Mr. Arvid Eirich, Director Finance, Sales & Technology of Berlin based association Mobility Goes Additive.
The roundtable was introduced and moderated by Professor Anne Lange, Luxembourg Centre for Logistics and Supply Chain Management.
The roundtable highlighted the development of Additive Manufacturing in automotive applications, mainly for prototypes, but also for small series and spare parts for the aftermarket and the vintage car market.
Another field of growing applications are spare parts and maintenance in maritime sectors, leading eventually to 3D printers being available for spare part printing on ships sailing on the long course.
Medical devices are another growth sector for Additive Manufacturing.
Finally, Public Transport and prominently rail transport (maintenance, spare parts) were outlined as interesting application sectors.
Additive Manufacturing might become a new trend setter for creating unique products, for differentiating product & service, for promoting small and smart production hubs and as enabler to bring back manufacturing to Europe.
Additive Manufacturing enables new designs, lighter components and eliminates many assembly steps in production lines.
On the other hand, new designs may require more scrutiny and testing and new certification.
One other issue is that Additive Manufacturing does not deliver homogenous density.
Growth of Additive Manufacturing is estimated to be annually above 20 % in coming years.
Available 3D Printing technology is very versatile and developing exponentially.
Regarding the metal supply chain, Additive Manufacturing is estimated to reduce lead times, to minimize tooling costs, to lower transportation costs, to decrease warehousing space and residence times.
First conclusions of a survey, conducted by LCL and associate TU Darmstadt among European companies, show that large companies tend to in-source Additive Manufacturing whereas SMEs rather opt to rely on out-sourced Additive Manufacturing capabilities.
The survey identified some key arguments for in-sourcing Additive Manaufacturing:
- Available financial resources
- Specialized teams are existing
- Commitment of the board
- Use cases are identified and tested opening the way to serial applications
- Intellectual Property concerns
Arguments for out-sourcing summarize as follows:
- Reluctance to invest in a new expensive technology
- Lack of specialized teams
- Learning and acceptance considerations
- Searching for use cases
- Applications are prominently samples and prototypes.
Full survey report shall be issued soon and will be available by LCL
As a takeaway of the roundtable we may generally retain, that Metal Additive Manufacturing opens new horizons to enterprises regarding agility, product customization, customer differentiation, efficiency of limited or small series manufacturing and as such will open new doors for enhanced metal value & supply chain models, with short lead and cycle times, with significantly reduced logistics costs and with limited working capital binding.