A part of our multi-part industry 4.0 series

Last time we tried to give you a few initial insights about the idea of Industry 4.0 and our understanding of it. Admittedly, some of its components may seem like a long shot and cannot (yet) be applied in SMB’s. There is however one promising candidate from the 4.0-world that can indeed make a difference in your business and boost efficiency: Additive Manufacturing – commonly known as 3D printing.

This technology enables the creation of structures and components from 3D model data by a step by step layering and up building of materials with seemingly endless geometrical properties.  Although this type of processing has been around for more than three decades, it’s only recently sky-rocketed in popularity – with a market CAGR of 20% since 2004 – stirring from being only a means of producing prototypes to offering fully functional components.

As shown in exhibit A, 3D printing is already in widely usage worldwide, due to the diverse possibilities offered by Additive Manufacturing with industries from automotive to medicine keen to profit from the precision engineering on offer.



We believe that conventional manufacturing won’t be fully replaced by Additive Manufacturing – at least not in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, there are indeed areas in which businesses can make use of this technology in different ways. By using 3D printing for rapid prototyping, Siemens estimated the reduction of the development time to nearly 75%. Validation testing e. g. was done nearly at the end of a long development process, due to the conventional manufacturing methods, which already brought a long delivery of components along. Additive Manufacturing enables the realization of design, manufacturing and testing during the development, providing far faster development cycles. Another promising area is rapid repair, as shown in the exhibit below.

Furthermore, it not only requires less intervention from machinists, but it also delivers way greater degrees of precision, as it is being printed directly from CAD data. Since in the process material is added to create the product (conventional methods are subtractive), it is more economic and eco-friendly allowing around 60% less resources in the production process and a 30% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Interested in making the first step towards 4.0? Set your strategy straight – contact us!


Mario ist Teil unseres Consulting-Teams und Operations Experte bei Consult&

Mario Jankovic

Innovation Philosopher, Consult&