So what does the future hold for additive manufacturing? Stratasys Gold Reseller SMG3D - www.smg3d.co.uk - suggest that it's time to look ahead to a future where additive manufacturing plays an increasingly vital role in the manufacturing process...
Ask many people about the Dot-Com bubble of the 1990s and the name Boo.com is mentioned. Founded in 1998, they saw that the internet was the future and poured £125 million into the business in just six months. They didn’t bother with a strategy or any other sort of long-term plan, instead opting for a “Build it and they will come” approach. Boom!
Also founded that same year was another online start-up. They had a more modest $100,000 of backing for their venture. However, they did have something – a strategy. They had a vision for where they wanted to be and how they were going to harness the World Wide Web. Why not Google them to find out who they are and how they got on?
Today, we are in one of the most exciting times in generations for manufacturing. Additive manufacturing is being embraced by companies of all sizes – from multi-national behemoths to one-man start-ups. Using 3D printing for tooling and even low-volume production saves time and money, while providing superior performance. This is a drum that additive manufacturing companies like Stratasys are banging constantly, and the innovators are benefiting from.
However, will we look back in 15 years time and see some examples of Googles and Boos in the world of additive manufacturing? We probably will – and the Googles will be those who adopted a clear strategy for AM in their businesses.
At the moment, innovators are finding opportunities for improving efficiency by utilising a 3D printer. These often come up on a project-by-project basis. However, we are also starting to see some really smart operators. Those are the companies where they are looking at their operation in its entirety and saying: “Where do we want to be in 5 years time? How can additive manufacturing help us get there?”
Just like Google, it isn’t always the big boys that win in the long-term. Some big manufacturers are adopting a strategy for additive, but many are not. Likewise some very small companies are saying: “OK, how can we position ourselves so that we make the most of the technology and grow with it?”
Why not take a look at your own operation? You know that additive manufacturing can save you time and money in specific cases. So why not examine how it can change your business in the long-term?