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How Additive Manufacturing Helps You Work Smarter, Not Harder

Our team recently traveled to Birmingham, UK to attend TCT and share our vision of the future of additive manufacturing. The event had over 11,000 attendees from all across Europe and all sorts of industries. Demo parts from customers such as Centerline Engineering were on display, and we were fortunate enough to have Toby Mellor from Auto Fabrica join the booth with the Auto Fabrica Type 11. Auto Fabrica printed nine parts using the Markforged X3 FFF 3D printer, including the battery box, the headlight housing, and radiator covers.

I gave a talk at TCT about additive manufacturing, and the ways in which it’s helping businesses work smarter, not harder. There is a lot of hype in additive manufacturing, You can recognize some of this hype by listening for buzzwords like “Digital Transformation” and “Industry 4.0”. But the transition hasn't really happened yet — the truth is that we are just starting to open up real applications and new value propositions where it actually makes sense to 3D print a part instead of choosing a traditional manufacturing method.

Why? Because manufacturers in high-volume industries compete and win on efficiency and cost, so the real tipping point to select additive manufacturing comes down to part cost. At Markforged, we have developed new a range of new technology to bring down the cost of printing metal and metal-strength parts. Our continuous carbon fiber composites functionally replace machined aluminum in a wide range of applications at 1/10th the cost. And our new metal printing process delivers a wide variety of metal parts using only the material you need (eliminating waste, lowering part cost) in a print system that's an order of magnitude more affordable than powder laser systems. If you have not had a chance to do so I recommend checking out some of our case studies to see real-world examples of customer successes.

As additive manufacturing adoption increases, we will also see a broad range of secondary benefits. Aftermarket replacement parts can be supplied on-demand, reducing the need for carrying low-turn inventory. Logistics will be simplified as the same part can be manufactured in a day on a printer located right next door. Suppliers will be able to dynamically adjust production to demand — switching seamlessly between parts on the same printing platform. And best of all, we will see faster time to market for new innovative hardware as we shorten the iterate-and-wait process of product development.

The next five years are going to be incredibly exciting — buckle up.

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