Looking at the coverage of additive manufacturing (AM), it would be easy to assume the technology is being used to directly print products in the manufacturing process. And while this is generally true for the hobbyist market, it is far from the whole story for industrial scale manufacturing. Many manufacturers are using AM to optimize the production floor itself to augment the technologies already present in the form of mold making, machining jigs and custom tooling solutions. One example of this disparity between perception and reality comes from a Siemens customer.
When building a competitive racecar there are many variables to consider, one of the most important is speed, but not just the speed of the car. For Formula One and other major racing leagues, the speed of production is a big hurdle for teams. They need to innovate quickly to gain an edge on the competition and for Seat, that meant adopting AM for their carbon fiber body molds. Traditional mold production can take several weeks for the complete process – design to use. AM changes that to just a couple days