This year’s 3D conference was an eye-opener

It’s not the 3D printer itself but rather a knowledge and understanding of its possibilities that can make a company successful. That was the message of this year’s lead speaker at Elmia Subcontractor’s conference on additive manufacturing, Patrick Carey of Stratasys.

This year’s conference attracted participants from all corners of the industry. They received both a global overview from Patrick Carey, one of the world’s leading experts in go-to-market strategies in additive manufacturing, and concrete examples from Volvo and Siemens of how they work with additive manufacturing.

“This is a clear eye-opener that highlights all the important aspects to be considered for 3D,” comments Berndt Johansson, Strategic Business Development Manager Nolato.

Patrick Carey’s message was clear. Whatever you are making you can benefit from 3D printing.

“Maybe you won’t manufacture the actual product using 3D but 3D printing can help you, for instance during the development stage or in manufacturing tools and fixtures. If you learn how to do this, and you get all stages of the chain to share in that understanding, then you can maintain your competitiveness, reduce your time to market and cut your costs.”

Carey says the determining factor is the software not the printer, which he thinks people focus on far too much.

“Of course the printers are important but the change happens in the development stage and during the design process. In the employees’ skill with the technology and in the business strategies. It is absolutely crucial to learn this.”

The conference’s second speaker, Kenneth Åsvik, ‎Manufacturing Technology Manager Volvo Group Trucks Operations, described Volvo’s experiences of additive manufacturing and the many challenges that arose.

“The entire industrial system needs to be adapted to suit additive manufacturing in order for the industry to be able to make use of the technology in the right way. If we go to a traditional manufacturing supplier, as we usually do, then they assume the entire responsibility. But with additive manufacturing the conditions differ every time. Then we usually have to find suppliers for every step in the chain – grinding the components, heat treatment, painting and so on. And we have to get the various suppliers to talk to each other. It’s a challenge.”

Siemens has been working with additive manufacturing since 2010 and Håkan Brodin, materials technology specialist at Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery, agreed that the technology comes with many challenges.

“You have to realise that you can’t just press the Print button. You have to learn to deal with the challenges that arise but also to see the possibilities. In our case this involves shortening our time to market and being able to supply spare parts to our customers.”

Lead speaker at Elmia Subcontractor’s conference, Patrick Carey of Stratasys.
Lead speaker at Elmia Subcontractor’s conference, Patrick Carey of Stratasys.