Speeding Up Digitalisation With Additive Manufacturing And 3D Printing

Speeding Up Digitalisation With Additive Manufacturing And 3D Printing

A new study by HP, in partnership with 3dbpm Research, shows that 3D printing and additive manufacturing (AM) are increasingly gaining traction. Sustainability, reliability and flexibility are contributing to this. 

With 3D printing making an impact on the digitalisation of manufacturing and the disruption of industries, the study found that AM is playing a significant role in enabling this transition. According to the study, which analysed key digital manufacturing trends among leading industrial parts manufacturers in Europe, 96% of respondents agreed that AM helps them to get products to market faster, with 100% of respondents recognising the importance of increasingly digitising their production workflows with the ability to produce parts on demand as the biggest driver of this behaviour.

In addition, it was discovered that 63% of European parts manufacturers who took part in the survey will invest from R1,7 million (€100,000) to over R17 million (€1 million) in digitalisation over the next 12 months, as the power of this agile ecosystem and technological capabilities are proving themselves in the most demanding of circumstances.

The HP AM Trends in EMEA Report dissects the motivations and investment strategies of manufacturers across five key European markets: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Benelux and the United Kingdom. Led by 3dpbm, a sample of industrial parts manufacturers of varying sizes and across a broad range of specialisations were independently surveyed. The study examines how firms that have already implemented digital and AM manufacturing processes for the production of industrial parts perceive the benefits of pursuing such a strategy, and to what extent they expect the macrotrend to continue to accelerate in the short and medium-term.

‘A digital transformation of manufacturing is underway,’ said Guayente Sanmartin, Global Head and General Manager, HP 3D Printing Multi Jet Fusion Business. ‘The leading companies of the future will be those that harness the power of software, data, AI, and digital manufacturing to reinvent and personalise customer products and experiences.’

Sustainable impact

The report indicated that sustainability has an influence on the decision to digitalise manufacturing workflows, with 61% of respondents agreeing that it is a relevant factor driver behind digitalisation. In addition, 91% noted that the ability to produce parts on demand was an important benefit, with a further 79% of those surveyed believing that additive manufacturing helps them deal with production challenges – such as the ability to adapt to fluctuating demand.

‘The advanced capabilities of 3D printing are creating entirely new opportunities for disruption across industries and with a far more environmentally sustainable approach, which is a significant driver for manufacturers today,’ added Sanmartin. ‘3D printing and its intrinsically flexible nature empowers a more circular economy.’

Digital transformation

The report reveals that AM operates as a key opportunity in the digitalisation of industrial manufacturing processes, with digitalisation considered a necessity for the near entirety of manufacturing processes by a large majority of survey respondents (96%).

The use of AM in industrial parts manufacturing was reported as key to producing more cost-effective components, as well as making better products at faster speeds. UK and German industrial parts manufacturers interviewed are planning the most significant investments in digitalisation and additive manufacturing, with 50% of British and 40% of German respondents saying they intend to spend more than R17 million (€1 million) over the next five years.

Other findings revealed that 83% of survey respondents use AM for the actual production of components and tools to make commercial products, with half of them (52%) already making complete finished products, which is the final frontier of AM.

‘3D printing is no longer exclusive to tools and small volumes of parts,’ said Stijn Paridaens, CEO of Digital Manufacturing service bureau ZiggZagg. ‘It is having a much bigger impact for our customers and it is why we are investing in 3D as the primary manufacturing offering for our customers. We believe HP Multi Jet Fusion Technology is the leading industrial technology to enable us to go from small series productions to medium and, in some cases, even large production of up to 200,000 final parts.’

This report builds on the findings of HP’s Digital Manufacturing Trend Report published in October 2020, providing a more extensive analysis of key drivers, investment strategies and country specific trends within Europe.

Highlights of HP’s AM Trends in EMEA Report include:

European industrial parts manufacturers agree on urgent need for increased digitalisation

• 100% of respondents recognise the importance of increasingly digitalising their production workflows.
• 70% of respondents said that the primary driver for digitalising manufacturing workflows is the ability to produce parts on demand.
• 61% of respondents stated that sustainability is relevant or very relevant to increasingly digitalise their manufacturing workflows.

Industrial tooling disruption underway with AM

• Over 95% of respondents indicated that AM is a relevant technology for digitalisation in their current manufacturing workflows.
• 91% of respondents said that they use additive manufacturing to make industrial tools (including jigs, fixtures and moulds). These tools are used to produce more parts via non-additive processes. Other relevant types of parts include EOAT and automation system components.
• 52% of respondents use AM for making complete finished products

AM improves part functionality and production flexibility

• 96% of respondents say that additive manufacturing helps them get a product to market faster.
• 91% of respondents indicated that the ability to produce parts on demand is a key benefit of 3D printing.
• 79% of respondents said that additive manufacturing helped them deal with production challenges related to Covid-19.

European industrial parts manufacturers are confident on the future growth of additive manufacturing

• Over 95% of respondents expect the use of additive manufacturing to continue to grow.
• 83% of respondents are likely to invest in expanding their digital manufacturing capabilities in the next 12 months. For 65% of them, this investment will include additive manufacturing.
• 92% of respondents are likely to invest in expanding their digital manufacturing capabilities in the next five years. For 77% of them, this investment will include additive manufacturing.