Nowadays the benefit of additive manufacturing is well known, but companies are still facing the challenge implementing this technology in their production network. This insecurity can be based on the lack of a holistic consideration of all influencing factors. Therefore the project goal is to provide an approach for a supply-chain- and lifecycle-wide concept that enables producing companies implementing additive manufacturing in an economical way.
In order to reach this goal it is necessary to include the whole value chain, including the quality and process assurance of the pre-AM-process, the AM-process, the post-AM-process. This research includes all relevant models, methods and tools necessary for the serial production of functional components manufactured by AM in the field of metal and plastic printing. For an overall picture the economical part is considered as well, beginning with the procurement of parts to the market impact focussing on a decision support based on a to be developed cost-benefit-model.
The overall innovation target is to develop a platform model incorporating design, additive manufacturing and finishing aspects. The model brings together the different specific tools and will provide information on both technological aspects and cost implications. The latter will be used in the cost-benefit-model. To ensure the full benefits of the AM technology focus will be on component functionality instead of current design. This implies a freedom of design as long as the component performs equal or better compared to the conventionally manufactured one.
The major economic impact can be gained by companies implementing the to-be-developed AM4I-concept in their production network. These can range from the quick and easy generation of prototypes (simultaneous engineering, reduced time to market), the possibility to realize complex geometries for advanced product designs (quality function deployment) and an economic feasibility of small batch sizes (personalized products and supply flexibility). This leads to an increase of business efficiency. As the concept focusses on the challenges of SMEs in the Europe Union, this will be the group of companies with the highest potential.
New processes and concepts by AM4I will also have desirable sustainability effects. Smaller time to markets, the easier production of complex products without complicated tooling and simultaneous engineering will raise resource efficiency. Furthermore the implementation of AM can lead to CO2-reducting as production can be located at the point of need and transportation can be reduced to a minimum.
The expected project results are developed as general concepts which need to be adapted to the special needs of each company and each product. Furthermore, they are developed to suite different branches, what is recognisable in the composition of the User Committee as well as in the project consortium. The case studies of the User Committee will verify the developed theoretical concepts. The results will be developed by research entities with different technical and material focuses.