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Acceptance of Additive Manufacturing (AM)

Acceptance of a new technology by an existing market is far from smooth, as it needs to perform better and be cheaper than established technologies with proven track records. This holds true especially in manufacturing, where requirements for mechanical properties and performance are tight for parts manufacturing. The entrance of a new manufacturing technology is often very difficult because of this. Metal AM is a newcomer and validation of its applicability follows the same pattern.
© LUT University

Today, metal Addicitive Manufacturing (AM) is already over 30 years old as a manufacturing method. For most of its existence it has largely been known as technology for prototyping in product development. In the last decade, metal AM has been undergoing rapid developments and has infiltrated the production floors even in the most highly regulated fields such as in aviation and automotive. Interest in industrial adaptation has risen together with technological possibilities and advancements in automation and digitalization.

Acceptance of Additive Manufacturing (AM)

Acceptance of a new technology by an existing market is far from smooth, as it needs to perform better and be cheaper than established technologies with proven track records. This holds true especially in manufacturing, where requirements for mechanical properties and performance are tight for parts manufacturing. The entrance of a new manufacturing technology is often very difficult because of this. Metal AM is a newcomer and validation of its applicability follows the same pattern.

Evaluation of Additive Manufacturing (AM)

A typical way to evaluate the state-of-the-art and capability of technology is assessment of so-called Technology Readiness Level (TRL). This scale, originally developed by NASA, is liked for its clarity and is often used to describe the maturity level of new production methods such as metal AM. TRL ten levels from introduction of technology to a final acceptance and full use in production are:

  1. Basic manufacturing implications identified.
  2. Manufacturing concept identified.
  3. Manufacturing proof of concept developed.
  4. Technology validated in laboratory environment.
  5. Basic capabilities shown (near production environment).
  6. System produced (near production environment).
  7. Production in production environment demonstrated.
  8. Pilot line capability demonstrated.
  9. Low rate production.
  10. Full rate production.

Constant R&D places metal AM technologies and applications at different levels, and most of metal AM technologies have evolved to level 7. Laser powder bed fusion, electron beam melting and direct energy deposition are placed on level 8. These technologies are readily available and can get the job done regardless of known process limitations. Maturity for full rate production has been reached for example with certain applications in aviation industry.

© LUT University
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