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.

Art- not part. This I grant you.
A tisket a tasket, this one ain’t made of plastic…

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)