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How AM changes more than manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a generational technology, something that transforms not only its own field, but also ripples change out across society. AM marries the innovation, agility, and efficiency of the digital revolution with the established body of knowledge of the material sciences.

It is the next great wave of digitalization – with physical objects rendered in digital form, we can explore an entire new world of possibilities, advantages, and applications. AM marks an inflection point in manufacturing that allows previously impossible structures to be produced. If you can design it, you can print it.

What was once a physical inventory can now become a digital library, bringing a radically more efficient logic to logistics and eliminating multiple links in the supply chain, such as packaging, warehousing, and transport. Moreover, as an additive process, where only the exact amount of required raw materials are used, AM makes waste a thing of the past. Just imagine what this can do for performance through-out all industries. As well as what it means for our planet in the long run.

AM changes everything – even if it’s not for everything

In additive manufacturing, a complex design is often as easy to produce as a simple one. This means designers can use geometry rather than bulk to achieve structural strength with less weight. It’s also ideal for components where complex inner shapes – curved channels for instance – can provide new functionalities and efficiencies.

AM changes the relationship of scale to production cost. With AM, components can be produced with individual customizations that would be unrealistic with traditional techniques. And prototyping and rapid iteration is now possible without retooling or making new dies.

But not all components are suitable for metal additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing remains relatively costly, and many types of components are still produced more cost-effectively at scale with traditional, subtractive methods. In fact, today only one percent of all components make sense to print.

Finding the AM sweet spot

The real value in AM today comes from understanding what should be printed, and what should not. Whether the choice is motivated by functional improvements, efficiency, or individual customization, the decision should be part of a holistic process. Even if the number of AM components in an application is small, designers should consider whether those components create other opportunities overall – such as reducing assembly steps, allowing substitution of lighter materials or revolutionary designs, providing more customer options.

Getting it right – optimizing the design, identifying the potential gains, and selecting the appropriate raw materials – calls for unbiased expertise and deep metallurgic and material knowledge – as well as post processing expertise.

The Sandvik additive advantage

With more than 160 years in the metal industry, few understand additive manufacturing like Sandvik. Metallurgy runs through every step of additive manufacturing. It also happens to be our specialty. As world-leading manufacturers of gas-atomized powders and leading experts in post processing methods, we master every step of the AM value chain.

We are uniquely positioned to help customers identify exactly how additive manufacturing can transform their products and business. To do it, we take our customers through a three-phase process: Plan it. Print it. Perfect it.

Our process leaves nothing to chance, from R&D to component and material selection, design, AM-process optimization, and quality control. With Sandvik, your power to transform is unlimited. In fact, you can reinvent the wheel – over and over again.

Read more about Sandvik’s additive manufacturing process