The Current State of Printing Technologies (Part 2)

In our previous post we told you about the trends in additive manufacturing in machines and materials. Do you want to know what are the current trends in digitalization and human resources? Keep reading! 

Trends in digitalization 

The main point to note is that, throughout the digital landscape, every aspect, every stage or step in the process, is continuously improving. All the more so with the advent of the processes associated with Industry 4.0. 

Although there is still enormous room for improvement, in some cases you can already take a native CAD file (which avoids the need to convert to a stl format, implying time and cost savings while improving the transmission of geometry information to the printing process), simulate printing (which allows detecting design errors or local deformations due to poor thermal dissipation and / or expansions differentials), make changes prior to printing, print while controlling the process using sensors (to diagnose and control the appearance of production problems) and, in all cases, control the digital thread while encrypting all the information to provide a guarantee of quality and protect industrial property. 

Flujo digital en procesos de fabricación aditiva

Consequently, the improvements that can be achieved relative aspects related to productivity and marketing are: 


  • Evolving from files in stl format to native CAD files. The quantity and quality of information processed increases significantly, and therefore, the final result in part quality. 
  • Use of simulation tools of the manufacturing process that help to correctly define the process parameters, orientation, arrangement of supports, etc., and be successful in the first manufacture (First time right). 
  • The incorporation of sensorization and supervision during the printing process provides better results, as it contributes to an early warning of any incident or derivation of the process, allowing to reverse the situation of possible failure by adjusting parameters, in those systems that have  Closed Control Loop. 
  • The encryption of digital data and the security of the flow of information throughout the entire process provides the necessary quality assurance (QA) and the protection of industrial property (IP). It is of the utmost importance to ensure both that the flow of information does not suffer any alteration, and that access to it is restricted to authorized persons and only at the necessary time. 


  • One of the main handicaps is the high investment in tools and equipment for design, simulation and sensorization, in addition to the purchase of productive equipment and facilities, which sometimes taxes too much the final cost of the parts. 
  • On the other hand, there is a consolidation of traditional simulation software firms such as ANSYS, MSC, Altair, etc. buying start-ups that complement and complete their suite of products. 
  • CAD suppliers such as Dassault Systems, PTC or Siemens are making significant efforts  to improve and integrate their products to adapt them to the additive manufacturing industry. 

Trends in human resources 

The emergence of additive manufacturing in the field of industrial business implies the adaptation of the human resources of the companies that decide to exploit it with the aim of making the most of the potential of technology. This implies new training at all levels, both for managers and personnel of high technical qualification (doctors, engineers, physicists, chemists, etc.) and the operation personnel of the machines and the subsequent processes. And, obviously, instill in all of them a change of mentality since all departments and processes must be linked to the common goal of obtaining maximum performance and productivity to the investment made. At this point, it should be noted that the professionals to whom a company offers the necessary training to be able to develop their work properly must be aware of the investment that the company makes in them and that the knowledge received will remain in them forever. Moreover, this knowledge will open the doors to new ways to continue learning over time and update their knowledge based on the technological advances that occur in the industry. 

One of the fundamental aspects to be taught in the aforementioned training is the so-called Design for additive manufacturing (DfAM),” whose schematic cycle is shown in this image, and whose main difference with typical design cycles is that it must be considered as an integrated whole, not being appropriate to particularize knowledge in only one of the vertices of the cycle since “everything affects everything”. It is therefore necessary to inculcate a “change of mentality” in all those professionals who come from the classical production industries. 

Taking into account these perspectives, the following needs and opportunities are produced: 

  • Engineering-intensive companies must understand that they will not meet cost targets without an active DfAM program and its associated training. 
Flujo DfAM
DfAM Flow
  • The DfAM philosophy must be seen as a whole, from the definition of cad to the finished part, balancing design, material and processes. 
  • Organizations must be aware that additive manufacturing must be at all levels of the organization because it is disruptive. 
  • The training must be transversal in the organization, but it must be adapted to the operational needs, being different the approach for the design, engineering, manufacturing, quality, procurement, project or management team. 

As you can see, there are many current trends in additive manufacturing. Do you have any doubts or questions? Contact us today.  We are happy to help you!