In a live presentation this week titled The Future is Now for Metal 3D Printing, a Tech Briefs reader had the following question:

“Do you foresee a transition toward internalization of manufacturing capabilities at large OEMs vs. traditional supply chain relationships (tier 1, tier 2, etc.)? Or will this technology be integrated into the tiers?”

Read the response from Dan Skulan, General Manager of Industrial Metrology at the UK-based engineering company Renishaw:

Dan Skulan: I’m the marketing chair for the Association for Metal Additive Manufacturing. The purpose of the organization is to help out this complete OEM-to-supply-chain relationship channel.

We have kind of a catch-22 that exists in industry. The OEMs need to design components so that the supply chain can purchase machines to build parts. But the majority of OEMs do not build the majority of their components internally. For most major OEMs, especially aerospace and automotive, greater than 80% of the components that they use are made in the tier structure.

The challenge is: The tier structure needs to know that an OEM is going to give them orders for parts that are 3D metal printed so that they can buy the equipment.

So, there’s a catch 22 that exists between the two. We see the OEMs investing in the machines for the test and development of components. Once they start to release orders into the supply chain, the tier 1/tier 2 suppliers will be actually purchasing the machines.

There’s a lot of things that can be done by the members of this panel here today and other companies to help move the process along for all companies, because there are a lot of benefits to companies moving in this direction. I would suggest to anyone to go to the Association for Metal Additive Manufacturing to look at more information on that.

What do YOU think? Share your comments below.

Watch the full presentation: The Future is Now for Metal 3D Printing.