Last updated on June 20th, 2023 at 09:50 am
The manufacturing sector has experienced remarkable advancement over the past couple of decades. Notably, many of these changes result from the industry embracing technology, which includes the digitization of manufacturing processes. It is important to note that additive manufacturing (AM) is one of the pioneers of the next phase of this technological advancement – digitized manufacturing.
Digitizing manufacturing is the way forward to improving and transforming production processes. It includes using technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, robots, etc. This helps guarantee a more innovative and smoother running of the industry, yet increased efficiency and flexibility of the production systems.
We must mention that manufacturing industries are now offering beyond large-volume manufacturing. Instead, the goal is to provide customers with on-demand manufacturing services, which suggests flexibility and efficiency of the manufacturing processes. In fact, it is essential for custom manufacturing, as customers may have more specific demands and are willing to bare the cost of their custom modifications.
How Digitisation is Taking Over the Additive Manufacturing Space
As we mentioned earlier, additive manufacturing – 3D printing – is one of the leading beneficiaries of digitizing manufacturing. Additive manufacturing processes may be more complex than machining services. However, share a similarity – in today’s world, codes and programmes control either service. Therefore, when creating parts with this manufacturing process, you must focus more on the data to ensure a successful fabrication.
The goal of digitization and 3D printing is to manufacture on demand. Before you can 3D print any object, you must have a digital template of your creation, even when engaging in reverse engineering. The whole manufacturing procedure – from the plastic powders, resin, metal, sheet, filament, and whatnot is digitized till the 3D model of the intended part is formed.
The next thing is to conduct a detailed analysis and simulation of the model. You might also need to modify the model to ensure it suits the intended application and meets all design specifications, especially for parts with tight tolerance and high precision requirements.
After creating the shape for the design, the next thing is to tesselate the digital model and convert it into an STL file that can be read into the build preparation software. Note that at this step, you must ensure the digital model also showcases a 3D model to allow the optimum building of each layer upon printing. Once all the design structures and build orientation are validated, you slice the part and everything on the build plate into digital layers. When everything is in place, the deposition head and nozzle for the printing are generated, and the printing can commence.
As mentioned earlier, the entire process is automated, crucial for digitization and achieving an error-free product that meets all the intended specifications. However, experts have a way of unlocking and accessing intricate parameters within the manufacturing processes to ensure that all customer demands are present in the end product. They also do this to maximize productivity, further enhancing additive manufacturing processes as operational.
How to Successfully Adopt Digitization in Additive Manufacturing
To successfully digitize additive manufacturing, you need the right technology. Digitizing additive manufacturing goes beyond using hardware and basic equipment for 3D printing. You need highly sophisticated production technology that guarantees impeccable dimensional accuracy that competes with CNC operations.
Below are tips for the successful adoption of digitization in AM:
- Invest in the Right Tech
You should consider upgrading your current machines and equipment. Get top-notch 3D printers, scanners and software compatible with digital 3D modelling and printing. Without the right equipment, digitization is impossible.
- Integrate Automation
Production speed and efficiency are integral for successful digitization in AM. We have emphasized the need to offer on-demand production services. Hence, the need to integrate automation, especially for recurrent tasks. Moreover, this helps cut down error risks, increasing productivity.
- Enforce a Digital Operational Flow
Beyond automating production and having the right equipment, it is necessary that you digitize the workflow that highlights each step in the manufacturing process from the digital model to the end product. This may effectively optimize production and serve as the roadmap for integrating digitization.
- Integrate Data Analytics
Data analysis is crucial for the effective and successful adoption of digitization in manufacturing. With data analytics, you get to monitor the performance of your equipment and identify areas that need upgrading. This promotes the improvement of the manufacturing process.
- Work With Experts
You may need to consult with experts in digitization for more insights into how best to go about digitizing the production process. Attend workshops and seminars to keep tabs on the latest technologies. In addition, you may need to organize programs and training for your employees to develop them using digital tools and software for the company’s benefit.
With all said you’d agree that you need to make investments to propel your company from conventional additive manufacturing services to digital. However, in the end, you’d find that digitization is even more cost-effective. For example, there is less attention on getting tools. Instead, the focus is on getting suitable devices, printers and software even when dealing with highly complex fabrications. Implementing the tips discussed will help you streamline the transition to digitized AM.
Additive manufacturing experts are already sticking to digitization for improved manufacturing procedures. It will benefit other professionals to adopt these for their production processes and benefit from the advantages of digitization. For facilities that intend to produce on-demand services to their customers, it is pertinent that they digitize their operations.