Additive manufacturing in the automotive supply chain

The Logistics Business has recently completed two projects examining future supply chains to support Additive Manufacturing (AM). This technology is currently undergoing a rapid expansion and the projects were sponsored by Innovate-UK in order to investigate the role that the method could play in various aspects of the automotive industry.

Together with a group of partner companies led by HiETA, these projects looked at the whole process that will be required to introduce additively manufactured parts into the automotive supply chain. After investigation into the links between the new process and existing procurement procedures it was discovered that there was no completely innovative solution that could deliver the requirements of the customer. The automotive industry currently operates a structured supply chain with well-defined criteria for entry and potential new suppliers and new processes will have to conform to existing procedures.

The challenges to be overcome by companies intending to operate in this field extend up the supply chain to the material suppliers. The supply chain for metal powder to be used for Additive manufacturing remains immature and there will be issues in ensuring that quality and batch traceability can be maintained as the quantities of powder required for mass production increase.

The consortium partners concluded that there will be need to be a step up in the supply chain to support the expected growth in additive manufacturing. Current industry players are expected to develop to assist this growth but new entrants are expected to provide enhanced services. For more information, get in touch by calling 01527 889060 or email