I have to admit that I am
a critical thinker skeptical about the whole idea of additive manufacturing as a viable commercial production process.
As a guy who has dealt with Detroit 3 automakers’ purchasing departments, and had to manage production, purchasing, inventory, operations, and engineering, I am not easily swayed by the breathless musings of “unlimited potential ” and “the sky is the limit” claims of a seemingly endless number of fanboy proponents of this new “Additive Technology” craze.
But even a
critical thinker skeptic like me (who knows about cycle time setup time, and EOQ’s (economic order quantities ) has to acknowledge that the process can do some pretty fancy stuff, even if it doesn’t look like the precision machined products we currently sell.
Even a grudging skeptic like me can recognize the beauty of the articles currently being produced by this new additive manufacturing process.
But I still question whether this will displace the close tolerance, high precision, high volume, low cycle time parts our industry manufactures economically by our ever improving “subtractive manufacturing technologies.”
Do I lack the vision to see where this technology will be in our future? Am I too close to the trees of subtractive manufacturing to see the forest of All viable manufacturing processes?
I don’t think so.
But the additive technology as a viable manufacturing process today would seem to be easily summed up in just three words.
Art not parts.
(to be continued)