This is a guest post in our series looking at the future of 3D Printing. To celebrate 5 years of reporting on the 3D printing industry, we’ve invited industry leaders and 3D printing experts to give us their perspective and predictions for the next 5 years and insight into trends in additive manufacturing.
Keyvan Karimi is the Founder & CEO of RP Platform. Based in London, RP Platform software simplifies and automates Additive Manufacturing workflows.
The Future of Automation in Additive Manufacturing by Keyvan Karimi
I and my team at RP Platform are incredibly excited about the speed of innovation we’ve seen in the additive manufacturing sector in recent years. In particular, the software that’s being developed alongside the newest printing machinery and materials looks set to have a huge impact across our industry.
Marc Andreessen’s (renowned investor and board director at HP and a number of other companies) observation that “Software eats the world” holds truer than ever before. Software is the major enabler of tomorrow’s factories, and connected platforms have the power to bring additive manufacturing assets together, seamlessly and effectively.
Additive manufacturing’s digital journey
Companies continue to invest in industrial additive manufacturing machines and skilled professionals. In light of this, operations are under significant pressure to establish efficient processes to leverage their investments. In light of this, new technology — from secure data storage, scalable processing power, advanced CAD algorithms and data driven business logic, to the first signs of artificial intelligence-based systems — cannot be ignored by forward-thinking companies.
In particular, productivity platforms (and in the long-term, artificial intelligence based platforms) are a game-changer for the additive manufacturing sector. They have the power to focus engineers on benefit-driving activities, improving machine efficiency while minimising administrative work and waste (materials, machine time etc.) across the process chain. At the same time, sales teams are better connected to their clients, delivering a more customer-focused service. Finally, customer-facing digital propositions (apps, websites, online dashboards etc.) provide a seamless flow of real-time information and help build trust across the project lifecycle.
We see this every day at RP Platform. Working with clients with varied long-term goals, we regularly encounter new challenges when it comes to processes, people and technology.
Unique solutions for a unique sector
The proven production and operational processes within additive manufacturing are unique, which is why we regularly see generic MRP/ERP/CRM/productivity solutions falling flat at meeting customers’ AM-focused requirements. A number of companies within our industry have tried to customise established software solutions without having developed a strategic partnership with the software providers in question. The results are rarely satisfactory. Put simply, developing successful software solutions for AM requires deep industry expertise and specialisation.
Embracing the human factor
Drastic changes in daily routines can be highly disruptive, which means it is important to consider the human impact of any new technology. This will involve managing a phased introduction of any new software platform to an operation, ensuring it is implemented successfully at all levels. Any investment in new technology must empower skilled engineers to achieve better results and turn employees into enthusiastic champions of future innovation.
Leading the way in a rapidly changing world
Additive manufacturing and digital technology are both highly dynamic and fast-evolving forces in the market. It is no longer enough to run single, piecemeal software projects or rely on annual product upgrades. In a fast-moving, constantly changing world, successful operations require dynamic software platforms with ongoing improvement cycles to succeed.
In the coming years, we will see software innovation for additive manufacturing accelerating rapidly. A new generation of connected, intelligent software platforms is coming to market and is replacing outdated single-software solutions across the manufacturing sector. Additive manufacturing companies/departments will be under increasing pressure to innovate or exit the market.
This is a guest post in our series looking at the future of 3D Printing, if you’d like to participate in this series then contact us for more information. For more insights into the 3D printing industry, sign up to our newsletter and follow our active social media channels.
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Can you find more information here about RP Platform.
Featured image shows RP Platform features.