â€œIt is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.â€ â€” Charles Darwin, a statement that still holds true in our current fast-paced world. Traditional manufacturing industries have historically been averse to changing their tried and tested ways of functioning. But with the looming threat of becoming obsolete in a world that is increasingly digital-driven, manufacturing industries have opened up to embrace the challenges of staying relevant.
Industry 4.0, also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is fast becoming the much-needed change necessary to steer away from conventional manufacturing and leverage the benefits of digital technologies and advanced digital solutions to drive transformation. The purpose of Industry 4.0 is to integrate digital technologies with conventional manufacturing technologies to create a holistic cyber-physical manufacturing environment.
Traditional manufacturing industries are now incorporating digital solutions into their development, production, and supply chain. This disruptive approach comprises mainly of four solutions:
Role of additive manufacturing in Industry 4.0
The successful adaption of digital technologies is limited by the capabilities of the existing manufacturing systems. This makes additive manufacturing (AM) one of the vital components of this new revolution as it has inherently been digital-driven right from its inception, with the perfect combination of software and hardware driving its process.
Additive manufacturing is the process in which a high-power laser beam partially melts and fuses layers of metallic powder to form three-dimensional objects. Fully functional metal prototypes and three-dimensional end-use parts may thus be quickly prototyped and manufactured in a wide array of materials.
Fabricating customised products with sophisticated design and advanced attributes while ensuring the highest quality standards, is only possible in the non-traditional methods of manufacturing, such as AM. This decentralised approach of AM offers a myriad of manufacturing and customisations across virtually all industries such as aerospace, space, lifestyle, biomedical, manufacturing, etc.
The constant drive for innovation has helped industries recognise the vital role that digital technologies play in the AM ecosystem. Part of the overall manufacturing process is controlled by software, automation, and machine learning, making it a highly digitised process. Digital technology helps to manage data more efficiently and significantly improves data-based decision-making. It also helps in reducing the time-consuming manual tasks by automating the AM processes.