Prototyping or Additive Design and Manufacturing? The FIT Additive Manufacturing Group Essentials

What is your level of expertise when it comes to Additive Design & Manufacturing (ADM)?
It is becoming far more obvious that disruptive additive techniques are about to revolutionize the future of manufacturing industries. At times, you may be faced with deciphering the myths and misperceptions related to this technology. The term "3D printing", an expression often used, certainly increases the ambiguity. That's why we feel the need to clarify some essential fundamentals around prototyping and additive manufacturing.

Myths and Misconceptions
One frequent presumption is that it will be sufficient to substitute one kind of manufacturing technology with another, leaving all remaining elements of the manufacturing processes untouched. This approach is inconceivable! At FIT Additive Manufacturing Group, we work with our clients on focusing on the entire value chain as an essential component of the term "AM revolution". The paradigm shift extends to every single step of the production process. Engineers literally have to reconsider every pre-established detail from this new perspective, starting from a different 'additive' perception of products, to considering the very specific challenges of additive manufacturing including design for AM and a variety of quality assurance issues.

Let’s take a look at a common question, "Can I save on production costs by 3D printing my conventionally molded part?" This is exactly why we avoid the expression "3D printing" because it eludes to ‘simple and easy’, miracle-like solutions. In reality, additive manufacturing is a difficult business which requires a fully dedicated commitment to the entire process. Additive manufacturing can indeed change the game, but excellence in execution does have a price. AM’s full potential can’t be realized without accounting for the effects on a company’s entire supply chain and total cost of ownership (TCO).

Prototyping vs. Additive Manufacturing – all the same thing, right?
Definitely not. It's true they share a common root which is classic rapid prototyping, but the practical differences are huge. Defining the production process is dependent on the intended use of the part.

In prototyping, FIT Additive Manufacturing Group manufactures sample parts for product development such as test parts, concept and design models, functional prototypes, but also pilot series. Key elements of this manufacturing process are very short lead times as well as a defined functionality for a short-timed use.

When referencing Additive Design & Manufacturing (ADM), FIT Additive Manufacturing Group is the industry’s technology pioneer as a provider of highly specialized and complex additive series components. Utilizing over 250,000 square feet of AM manufacturing, we are positioned to offer a broad range of services, including additive design and engineering (pre-production phase), a huge spectrum of different AM technologies (production phase) using SLA, Laser Melting, WAAM et al., and elaborate finishing methods (post-production phase). This enables us to provide our clients with truly innovative and competitive products.

Prototyping – ADM: A Comparison

Why order prototyping services from us?

  • Very short lead times
  • Enhanced market intelligence
  • Excellent time-to-market (TTM)
  • Vast array technologies immediately available at every step of the production process

Why order ADM services (Additive Design and Manufacturing) from us?

  • Engineering proficiency (additive design and engineering)
  • Quality assurance specific to additive series production
  • Inhouse experts for materials, laser technology, post-processing

Example: Additively optimized cylinder head with internal microstructuring resulting in a weight reduction of 66 %

FIT Prototyping is your single-source provider for any prototyping need, leading the industry with over 20 years of experience and accountability. Applications range from custom made concept & design models to fully functional prototypes ready for testing, beginning from a lot size of 1 up to small batch and pilot series.

Service spectrum FIT Prototyping (PDF)

Material data sheets FIT Prototyping

Contact/requests FIT Prototyping

FIT Production, on the other hand, is the right partner to provide expertise for any phase of the additive manufacturing process. Services start from uniquely specific additive design and engineering expertise to feasibility tests, design optimization, then move to the actual production process, including post-processing methods as well as a multitude of quality assurance techniques specifically required by AM.

Service FIT Production (PDF)

Material data sheet FIT Production

Contact/requests FIT Production

CASE STUDY AUTOMOTIVE BRACKET

Customer specification #1: A quickly available, instantly usable copy of an existing bracket.

Material: Steel

Weight: 640 g

Lot size: 1 – 100

Technology: Laser Melting

Requirements: Creation of STL file, production

Benefit: quickly available, instantly usable

Lead time: 4 working days

Cost per piece: € 2,218

Customer specification #2: A weight-reduced, fully functional redesign of an existing bracket.

Material: Aluminum

Weight: 239 g

Lot size: 100 - 500

Technology: Laser Melting

Requirements: Creation of STL file, topology optimization, FEM, production

Benefit: Material reduction

Lead time: 2 weeks

Cost per piece: € 2,123

Customer specification #3: A weight-reduced and fully functional redesign of an existing bracket, capable for series production.

Material: Aluminum

Weight: 203 g

Lot size: 500 – 1000

Technology: Laser Melting

Requirements: Creation of STL file, topology optimization, series optimization, FEM, production

Benefits: Material & cost reduction

Lead time: 10 weeks

Cost per piece: € 467


Case Study Summary:
Each product has its own set of specifications which ultimately defines the parameters of the required production process. Reasonable and acceptable adaptation to disruptive manufacturing concepts will only be profitable for carefully selected products. With FIT Additive Manufacturing Group’s conceived Additive Design and Manufacturing applications, we empower our clients to create totally different products, optimized according to their individual specification, which cannot be realized in the same design and efficiency otherwise. Indeed, quality requirements will have to be adapted for AM parts, we are well suited to be
sure they will be fully met. Sound complicated? It can be, but your AM acheivements stand to be more easily met with a dedicated Additive Design & Manufacturer like FIT Additive Manufacturing Group. With us at your side there is no need to feel apprehensive, we’re with you – every step of the process!

Many companies are trying to keep up with the current industrial trends by experimenting with "3D printing". Let's keep in mind that AM is not just another machine in a corner of the facility but demands full commitment to the entire ADM process. We have gained our expertise from over 20 years of practical doing. With our help you'll succeed from your first try.


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92331 Lupburg
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