This video explores the first of two topics related to the first quadrant of the additive manufacturing framework: product development. Begin by understanding the various ways in which additive manufacturing is used throughout the development process and then explore the impacts the technology can have on speed, cost, and the ability to match customer demands through product design.
- Hi there. In this segment we're going to begin delving into the additive manufacturing framework by looking in quadrant one, stasis, and in particular at product development. Let's remind ourselves of what it means to be thinking about quadrant one. In this quadrant, companies will not seek radical alterations in either supply chains or products, but they may retain interest in exploring additive manufacturing technologies to improve value delivery for current products within existing supply chains. Now, perhaps nowhere is that more important than when we're talking about product development.
Companies are always in a race to bring new products to market as quickly as they can, but that race comes with a tradeoff, that is, the speed that you seek may cause you to forego precise matching of customer demands, and so you're trying to balance those two and make the best possible decision. Additive manufacturing helps the product development process by helping to break that tradeoff, or at least getting the company closer to that performance frontier. Now, because we dive into the uses of additive manufacturing in product development, let's first understand what, exactly, we're talking about.
We'll define product development in this way: product development is the conceptualization, design, prototyping, and commercialization associated with creating new products and services, and developing enhancements to existing products and services. Now, product design has traditionally, as I mentioned, been the number one application. In 2013, 38% of all additive manufacturing sales and service was allocated to product development applications. In fact, as we know, rapid prototyping is what this technology set used to be called, so it's important.
Additive manufacturing enhances product development in at least three ways. Number one, it accelerates time to market, number two, it takes cost out of the product development process, and number three, it helps facilitate the process by which the demands of customers are better met by the products and services created. Before we look at examples of each of those things, we're going to take a step back and look at how additive manufacturing is used at each stage of the product development process. For example, we might take a product like this, and say we'd like to create a concept model using, say, stereolithography as this item was created.
The purpose of this is simply to illustrate what a product would look like without concern for either its fit, or its finish, or anything else. We just want to communicate an idea in a concept model. In an appearance model, our goal is to allow designers to explore the look, and feel, and size of a product without concern for its actual function, so in this case we're actually even adding color using a binder jetting process to illustrate what something's going to look like.
Form and fit prototypes provide even higher level of detail, as in this hand tool, where we're using an extrusion deposition process to actually illustrate how the component will fit within a larger assembly. We want to begin to convey realism in the application here, and finally, functional testing prototypes have the highest level of demand for precision and accuracy, as in this case, where we've got an air duct, produced using SLS, or selective laser sintering, to create an object that might actually be produced and used using that same technology.
Here we might want to actually put this in a field environment in order to manage and understand how it's going to wear in the real world. In terms of overall benefits, we've mentioned three: faster time to market, reducing cost of product development, and better matching the demands of the customer. We have examples of each of these. In consumer products ranging from shoes to motorcycles, we see time to market reduced by up to 90%, and on a cost side, we see per-prototype costs falling from nearly $2,500 in some cases, to as low as $50 in specified applications.
Those are big savings. The question is, how do we think about applying those savings, and that's where this better match between the demands of the customer and the products we're offering can sometimes come into play because, of course, when we save time, or when we save money, we have two choices: we can either pocket those benefits, or we can reinvest them in doing better and better jobs of actually meeting customer demands, so in summary, product design applications, number one use of additive manufacturing, even today.
There's a long history of the technology in this domain, and that's probably going to stay at number one, I would say at least for the next couple of years, until functional products actually overtake them. We need to look for opportunities to apply these technologies in situations where the tradeoff between speed, and cost, and matching customer demands need to be broken, and we need to be aware of the opportunity to apply these technologies across the entire product development range, from concept, through appearance, to fit and function.
- What is additive manufacturing?
- Working with light-activated polymers
- Resin printing
- Modeling and extruding materials
- Fusing, melting, and sintering
- Binder jetting
- Laminating sheets
- Developing a product
- Shaping the direction of tooling
- Evolving a supply chain
- Evolving a product
- Evolving a business model