“If you are looking to get into AM, there is no better way than to start with tooling.”
I have been involved in many organisations implementing additive manufacturing (AM). No organisation is the same and the plan for each ends up being unique to the organisation, its customers, and their product line.
Generally, you can organise your plan using ‘different buckets’. One bucket being models, prototypes, marketing pieces, etc. Another being serial production, end components, and supplementing production for a variety of reasons including supply chain disruption and parts & services.
The third bucket is often overlooked by strategists and AM presenters alike and this is tooling. “Tooling” can include a variety of applications such as injection moulds, casting moulds and its pieces, jigs, fixtures, lift mechanisms, assembly aids, and productivity/safety enablers. I find it baffling that many corporations trying to implement Industry 4.0 ignore the AM side of this implementation. To be sure, many people ignore this application for a variety of reasons, one being that the old way was workable and the other being that this application isn’t very sexy.