The State of Additive Manufacturing Industry – Insights from Avi Reichental, CEO of Nexa3D


Avi Reichental, CEO of Nexa3D, shared insights on the current state and future prospects of the additive manufacturing (AM) industry during a panel interview in March of 2023. 

We’ll breakdown the main takeaways from his discussion below:

  1. Accelerated adoption of AM solutions, with emphasis on high-volume supply chain applications.
    1. Statistic: According to the Wohlers Report 2021, the AM industry was expected to grow at a CAGR of 21% between 2021 and 2025.
    2. Statistic: The global additive manufacturing market size was valued at USD 15.28 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 77.54 billion by 2028, according to Fortune Business Insights.
    3. Case study: Adidas used AM to manufacture the Futurecraft 4D shoe, which demonstrates the scalability of AM for high-volume production.
  2. The critical role of materials, hardware, end-to-end processes, and software/AI in driving AM innovation.
    1. Historical fact: The invention of selective laser sintering (SLS) in the 1980s was a significant milestone in the development of AM materials and processes.
    2. Case study: General Electric‘s LEAP engine fuel nozzle was redesigned using AM, resulting in a 25% lighter part and a 5x increase in durability.
    3. Research: A study by MIT explores the potential of AI-driven generative design to optimize AM processes and enhance product performance.
    4. Research: MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab explores the intersection of AM, materials science, and AI to develop innovative manufacturing solutions.
  3. Necessity for easy integration, open APIs, and open material platforms to promote collaboration and standardization in the industry.
    1. Analogy: The adoption of AM can be compared to the rise of open-source software, which promoted collaboration and innovation by making code and APIs available for public use.
    2. Case study: HP’s Open Platform Initiative for 3D printing materials is an example of how openness and collaboration can accelerate innovation in the AM industry.
  4. Advantages of designing products specifically for AM, optimizing designs, and unlocking AM’s full potential.
    1. Case study: GE Aviation’s use of AM to create the LEAP fuel nozzle resulted in a 25% lighter part with improved performance and durability.
    2. Case study: Adidas used AM to create the Futurecraft 4D shoe, featuring a 3D-printed midsole tailored to an individual’s foot shape and running style.
  5. Importance of sustainability in AM and sustainability-centric design thinking. Nexa3D is sponsoring the development of a sustainability calculator for real-time environmental impact assessment of AM choices.
    1. Research: A study by the University of Exeter investigates the environmental benefits of AM, including material and energy savings, waste reduction, and circular economy opportunities.
    2. Research: The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) published a report discussing the potential of AM to contribute to sustainable development and the circular economy.
    3. Historical analogy: The introduction of just-in-time manufacturing in the 1970s and 1980s led to a significant reduction in waste and improved resource efficiency, similar to the potential impact of AM on sustainability.
    4. Historical fact: The concept of a circular economy dates back to the 1970s and has gained traction in recent years as a more sustainable alternative to the traditional linear economy.
  6. Enthusiasm surrounding the integration of intelligence, software, and connectivity in AM systems.
    1. Case study: Autodesk’s Fusion 360 software integrates design, simulation, and AM processes into a single platform, enabling more efficient and intelligent product development.
  7. Potential for AM to minimize traditional warehouses, lower inventory costs, and release working capital.
    1. Research: A report by PwC estimates that AM could reduce total inventory costs by up to 50% by enabling on-demand production and reducing lead times.
    2. Case study: Daimler Buses used AM to reduce spare parts inventory by producing parts on-demand, resulting in cost savings and reduced lead times.
  8. Addressing the labor-intensive and time-consuming post-processing challenge in AM. Nexa3D is investing in R&D to streamline and automate post-processing.
    1. Research: Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology has been working on the development of automated post-processing solutions for AM to reduce manual labor and increase efficiency.
  9. The ongoing manufacturing renaissance and substantial opportunities for AM within this broader transformation.
    1. Historical fact: The First Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century marked the beginning of modern manufacturing with mechanization, which can be considered analogous to the transformative potential of AM in the current manufacturing landscape.

Key points elaborated upon include:

  • Accelerated AM adoption is fueled by a shift towards high-volume supply chain solutions, enhanced materials, hardware advancements, and software/AI integration.
  • Nexa3D prioritizes open APIs and open material platforms, facilitating seamless product and system integration into existing workflows for customers.
  • Companies can maximize AM benefits by designing for additives, unlocking advantages such as lightweighting, optimized geometries, and enhanced mechanical performance.
  • Sustainability is vital in AM, and Nexa3D supports research institutions in quantifying additive’s contribution to a more sustainable planet. The company is also developing a sustainability calculator for informed decision-making.
  • Nexa3D pushes the limits of speed and performance in AM, utilizing intelligence and software to create fully connected and adaptive manufacturing systems.
  • AM has the potential to reduce inventories, scrap, and working capital tied to high inventory levels, leading to more efficient supply chains.
  • Automating and simplifying post-processing are crucial for AM’s viability in high-volume production.
  • The current manufacturing renaissance presents an ideal opportunity for AM to become a major player in the industry.

Relevant resources for further reading:

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