Manufacturing got smart when companies figured out how to make products in one market and sell them in another. Today, we call this supply chain logistics. But somewhere along the way, the innovation chain connecting supply (manufacturing) and logistics (the supporting infrastructure) started to diverge. Now, the industrial sector is scrambling to catch up; be more open in terms of thinking and approach; be more flexible in terms of interoperability and support; and be more innovative in terms of business process control–and this means doing things differently.
Producing a manufactured part used to start by preparing a big piece of raw material for a mold or series of subtractive steps. Today, this is not always the case, as multi-disciplinary advances in material sciences, metrology, and design converge on manufacturability. This will become clear with the use and broad applicability of Additive Manufacturing (AM) for structural materials.
While the present industry view of AM adoption is highly fragmented due to a technology diffusion model akin to the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET)-to-Internet evolution (and the belief that machining and molding is not going to go away anytime soon), the reality is that AM will compete and, ultimately, win in a broader circle of applications than most are ready to accept. Now, production AM is on the cusp of scale.
This report examines what ABI Research considers to be the most significant trends and developments related to AM. It provides foresight on the disruptive and transformational impact of AM; the ways in which AM-enabled paradigms will redefine the very nature of PLM; the impact on the supply chain; and what it means for the way we work. Section 3 includes the conceptual framework supporting the research, as well as a wrap-up of recent activity. It is followed by select case studies, as well as updated and refined forecasts on the market’s growth. The final section provides a high-level assessment of a number of relevant vendors that are seeing traction in production AM, targeting production AM as their main opportunity, or are working with promising metal alloy AM technologies and techniques that could, in ABI Research’s view, prove a strong fit for different value chain components at different stages of maturity.