Although you’re intrigued by the process of additive manufacturing, you might be under the assumption that it is beyond the capabilities of your shop; after all, something this different from what you are doing now is out of your league. Additive manufacturing is for other, more successful shops. Well, you are half correct: additive manufacturing makes shops more successful, but it is not necessarily only for other shops. It could very well be for your shop.
Take a look at Baklund R&D in Hutchinson, Minn. The job shop owner says that just having additive manufacturing capability in-house has been a significant asset in capturing the attention of prospective customers. He encourages the interest by sending out 3D printed sample parts. Prospects with no additive manufacturing capability in their supplier bases take notice, because many of them recognize that some of their current or future components might be candidates for this type of production.
Baklund R&D’s 3D printer opens the door to new relationships because it makes clear to customers that the shop is committed to exploring this capability with them. Read “Additive Manufacturing in the Job Shop” for more information about this shop’s experience with its 3D printer.
Another good read on this topic is “How Additive Manufacturing is Like CNC Machining (and How it’s Very Different)." In this article, a leading machining business comments on how to use additive manufacturing effectively. He shares four points: Prepare for multiple machines; lean on CNC machining capability; know which features to create additively and which ones subtractively; and learn by failing.
Additive manufacturing describes technologies that build complex components layer by layer, focusing on the ways these technologies are used to make functional products such as production tooling and end-use manufactured parts.
For even more articles on additive manufacturing, visit the additive manufacturing zone.