Lack of knowledge is the biggest obstacle for a 3D-print breakthrough

‘We are slowly starting to see progress’.

Werner Stapela, Global Head of Additive Design & Manufacturing at Danfoss, explains in the ‘AM Report 2020’ published by the Danish AM Hub and prepared by the University of Southern Denmark.

The study sheds light on the prevalence of AM technologies in Denmark and results show that only one out of four manufacturing companies applies the technology.

However, both the review for 2019 and 2020 indicate that 3D printing will grow at a rocket pace in the coming years – also outside our borders, as the technology has matured. Now you can print in full-scale colours in more than 500 different materials such as metal, rubber, glass, concrete, leather, chocolate and even in organic materials such as cells. Globally, Wohlers Report predicts that the 3D printing industry will grow from 9.795 billion USD in 2018 to 35.6 billion USD in 2024, especially in the aerospace, pharmaceutical, dental, and automotive industries.

Therefore, the road is paved for an industrial breakthrough and in the AM-LINE 4.0 project, the Danish Technological Institute has helped 100 new companies get started with 3D printing in metal.

Additionally, Denmark is in a unique position to exploit the technology as Denmark is in an international leading position in the field of injection moulding.

Addressing the lack of knowledge

In Denmark, especially two MADE members, Danfoss and Grundfos, work to promote development in the field of 3D printing, according to the report.

Furthermore, the report shows that several companies do not use AM as they do not consider it relevant to their business. In addition, several manufacturing companies point out that they lack information about how AM can be used within their field as well as a lack of knowledge of AM technologies in general and in relation to a possible implementation.

'There is much to suggest that the main reasons why many Danish companies still do not use AM technologies are in fact not that AM is not or could not be relevant to them, but rather that they fundamentally lack knowledge, either about how the technology can support their company’s business basis, or more fundamentally about what AM technologies can actually do today,' the report concludes.

According to the representants of the largest companies, the prevalence of AM is crucial. If the manufacturing industry in Denmark does not take the new AM technologies seriously, it will affect the international competitiveness of Danish companies.

How do we get more people involved?

The American A. T. Kearney’s report “3D-printing index” concludes that countries with a strong manufacturing economy, like Denmark, must accelerate in prioritizing AM technologies to secure future growth of their labor force. This should be done by prioritizing new education programs and incentives to make engineers learn 3D design.

It is exactly this approach that Danfoss and Grundfos have: They invest in education and skills in relation to 3D print.

‘It is important to us and to Denmark’s competitive performance, that SMEs and our future employees have the right abilities within AM. AM has to be introduced in the educational programs immediately,’ says Thorsten Brorson Otte, Additive Manufacturing Manager at Grundfos, and Danfoss agrees:

‘The lack of knowledge within AM supply chain is an essential challenge. We must search for knowledge overseas and stay updated on the new technological changes,’ Werner Stapela concludes in the report.

A new mindset is required

‘We believe that to be successful within AM, it requires a different way of thinking and not only within design. Digitalization is one of many corner stones and we must change our approach within all areas e.g. purchasing, sales etc.,” Danfoss’ Manager of AM concludes.

The new mindset must be implemented by educating employees.

“We are experiencing a great progress. We have trained around 600 employees and our goal is to train 500 employees every year. We have started to change the training from statistical PowerPoint-presentations to short serials of video clips,” Werner Stapela explains at a MADE AM-Line Open Lab.

Over the last three years, Werner Stapela has worked to increase the level of AM/3D-print in the company’s 71 international factories and in collaboration with Danfoss, they establish competence centers around the world:

”We started with a competence center in Nordborg, subsequently in the US, and now it is logical for us to expand to Asia, as it most likely to become our greatest market within the next 2-3 years,” he explains in the video interview.

Both Danfoss and Grundfos are engaged in the AM-LINE 4.0 project, where they, under the auspices of Center of Industrial 3D-print at Technological Institute of Denmark, cooperate with several partners to exploit the huge potential of 3D-print production of metal components. 

Furthermore, they participate actively in MADE events, where they give presentations and host study trips for SMEs. By doing so, the two large companies contribute to the expansion of AM knowledge among Danish SMEs.

‘’Some of the SMEs are starting to see the possibilities of applying the AM-technology, especially regarding production of small quantities of custom-made products’’ the AM Report 2020 concludes.

What is AM-LINE 4.0?

  • AM LINE 4.0 is a four year project, that was launched 1st of January 2018
  • Innovation Fund Denmark invested 35 million DKK
  • Total project budget: 88 million DKK
  • Duration of the project: 4 years (from 1st of January 2018 to 31st of December 2021) 
  • Partners: Grundfos, Danfoss, DTU, Adimant, Scada Minds, Niras, MADE, TWI, SLM Solutions and the Danish Technological Institute. 

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