Blog post #2; Intro to Industry 4.0 – Additive Manufacturing and Industrial 3D-Printing
Short Intro to Industry 4.0; Additive Manufacturing and Industrial 3D-Printing
We are today standing at the beginning of what is being referred to as Industry 4.0, or in other words the next industrial revolution. While previous revolutions introduced concepts such as mechanisation, the steam engine, electricity and ultimately led to the buildup of mass-production factories; Industry 4.0 is about making the factories lean, smart, connected and digital. Industrial 3D-Printing, part of the technologies enabling Industry 4.0, is a production and manufacturing solution that bridges the previously uncrossable digital-to-physical gap, opening digital era opportunities to production, distribution and a range of other common business processes.
Industrial 3D-Printing has come a long way from its origin in rapid prototyping (for quick fabrication of mockups and conceptual prototypes) to now entering the spheres of production, manufacturing and distribution. In fact, Industrial 3D-Printing solutions have advanced significantly in speed, costs, capabilities and range of materials objects, parts and products can be fabricated from (from plastics to metals to ceramics to composites, etc.). In fact, Industrial 3D-Printing have progressed to the extent that the technologies are being used by innovators to produce commercial grade end-use parts and products which are being used in engines, aeroplanes, medicine, sports equipment, etc.
Although Industrial 3D-Printing is often envisioned as a technology of and for the future, the technologies are already being used here-and-now by both innovators and established businesses. With the advantages of economical low-volume production and being able to transform virtual (digital) objects to physical ones with minimum manual input and intermediate steps; companies are able to cost efficiently and on-demand fabricate tools, moulds, parts and products; ultimately helping them in their pursuit of higher levels of productivity, efficiency, improved value propositions and introduction of next generation products, services and business models.
More information about Industrial 3D-Printing, what the technologies enable and how they are being used (by whom, how and for what), can all be read in the book “The Rise of Industrial 3D-Printing”.