Additive Manufacturing Needs an Executive's Eye

Attention, CEOs: To implement additive manufacturing at the enterprise level, there are five transformations that must happen simultaneously.


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Within a manufacturing enterprise, who should own the decision to implement additive manufacturing (AM)?

If you think about additive manufacturing as purely a manufacturing tool, it makes sense that this task would fall to manufacturing engineers. But AM is not just a manufacturing tool. AM’s promise is not that it offers a different way of building the same part, but that it enables additional benefits such as changing the way that part is designed, limiting the amount of material it uses and reducing its lead time. These benefits to the part also have further implications for the supply chain, such as reduced assembly work and transportation needs.

The potential impact of additive manufacturing therefore extends beyond manufacturing parts. Successfully implementing AM demands simultaneous change across five different parts of the business:

  1. Design. AM enables cutting cost as a result of its reduced manufacturing constraints.
  2. Production. Because an AM machine can replace operations like casting and assembly, it is possible to manufacture parts closer to customers.
  3. Operations. Like lean, AM helps to eliminate waste and complexity.
  4. Accounting. The ability to avoid tooling makes it possible to justify manufacturing products at small production volumes.
  5. Image. AM is an inherently low-carbon-footprint approach to manufacturing, allowing companies to function in a way that is consistent with environmental values.

As such, the decision to implement AM should come from from someone with a broad view of the organization. In almost every case, the best person to make this call is likely to be the CEO.

How does this play out in practice? Find examples and more in this immersive digital article from Additive Manufacturing Media.



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