Xometry recently released the results of a survey conducted in collaboration with Forbes to gain insights into current manufacturing trends.
The survey gathered the opinions of 150 manufacturing leaders on various subjects, such as the adoption of advanced manufacturing techniques and the integration of AI tools.
Manufacturing Capacity and Digital Workflows
A key finding of the survey is that 71% of respondents believe that “there is enough manufacturing capacity in America to address the world’s supply chain concerns,” and it is likely that some of this new capacity includes additive manufacturing elements. Additionally, 59% of participants indicated they were investing heavily in digital workflows, which can naturally lead towards the use of 3D printing technologies due to their digital nature.
AI Investments in Manufacturing
The survey suggested that a majority of companies were investing more in AI tools than in robotics and presumably 3D printing. Virtually all respondents thought AI would “play a large role in their future operations.” Those who had invested in AI were experiencing significant returns on their investments, making it highly probable that others will follow suit.
Xometry identified the primary AI investment areas as follows:
- 84% of companies using AI are deploying the technology for supply chain management/operations
- 76% for manufacturing procurement
- 58% for digital procurement
- 57% for quality control
- 40% for job management/automation
- AI’s Role in Additive Manufacturing
Notably, none of these areas relate directly to additive manufacturing, which could be an issue. AI is being utilized across various sectors, but its significant use in additive manufacturing (AM) remains limited, aside from minor tuning and monitoring applications.
It may be necessary for those involved in AM research and product development to explore further ways AI can propel additive technology forward. Potential applications for AI include materials development, automated machine calibrations, advanced toolpath generation, and more. These advancements may already be underway, but we might not have heard about them yet.
Additive Manufacturing Becoming Mainstream
Another implication of the survey is that AM is no longer considered a strategy warranting explicit mention, perhaps because its use is now seen as a natural element in manufacturing. This development is good news for the 3D printing industry.