Additive Manufacturing: State-of-the-Art, Capabilities, and Sample Applications with Cost Analysis

University essay from KTH/Industriell produktion

Abstract: Additive Manufacturing – AM – which is a part of a generic term, Rapid Prototyping, comprises a family of different techniques to build 3D physical objects sequentially stacking a series of layers over each other. These techniques have been evolving over three decades with more materials available, improving the techniques as well as generating new ones. However they are all based on the same explained idea. In this research the main AM methods followed with the opportunities of application and cost drivers is sought. For this purpose, after reviewing different processes and techniques, the application of them in diverse industry sectors is described. The influence of AM in production systems, so called Rapid Manufacturing (RM) is also discussed in terms of lean and agile concepts. Time and cost are the most important factors for the production systems to be responsive and productive respectively. Thus, case based application of RM is evaluated to clarify how AM acts in different production systems regarding these factors. To decide which method is the best, strongly depends on the case. But what has been derived from the analysis, is that however in comparison with traditional methods, AM applies more economically in one-off jobbing, yet the economy of scale exists to some extent. In fact it depends on the machine capacity utilization as well as batch size which indicates the machine volume usage. Despite all the improvements in the last three decades, the application of AM is still not widespread. Since the demand, use, applications and materials as well as its techniques are still in a growing phase, a brighter future is seen for the upcoming customer oriented market.

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