The current crisis reveals the weaknesses of globally networked manufacturing and its dependence on complex, widely dispersed and vulnerable supply chains. In order to remain independent and capable of action in crisis situations now and in the future, 3D printing is the ideal solution for self-sufficient and flexible manufacturing. In this context, new software tools are helping to digitally transform manufacturing.

The innovation forge CoreTechnologie has taken the new 4D_Additive software to the next level to meet the increasing demands of additive manufacturing in terms of production accuracy and automated workflow.
Automated 3D printing process
The 4D_Additive Software Suite enables automation of the workflow from CAD system to print job. All functions of the tool can be automated using the system's own scripting language. The software processes data from common CAD systems as exact B-Rep geometry. This enables the inspection, repair, preparation and printing of exact 3D models according to CAD engineering standards.
In addition to the new, innovative texture module, the software has repair functions, automated component alignment, intelligent nesting functions with multiprocessor calculation and analysis functions for component optimization. For lightweight construction, the software offers functions for hollowing out and filling the parts with so-called lattice structures.
Additive manufacturing is competitive for the small-batch production of complex plastic parts. An extensive series production of components as a bridging scenario is conceivable. In the future, the technology can help to avoid acute supply bottlenecks by building up new 3D printing resources by optimally networking existing ones.
Search engine for 3D printed parts
For companies, the practical test is recommended to check the potential of 3D printing in the manufacturing process to act autonomously and flexibly in a fragile and disruptively changing environment. Already in the design phase, the new technology offers aspects such as functional integration and integral construction by combining assemblies as well as material-saving lightweight construction themes. The challenge is to identify the parts and components suitable for the new manufacturing process and to automatically filter them out of the database of 3D models. For this purpose, CoreTechnologie has developed the Partfinder as a search engine for classifying components based on the geometric properties of the CAD models. The search is based on reading all information from the CAD file and analyzing the geometry, design history, dimensions, attributes and tolerances.
Future opportunities
For companies, additive manufacturing is one of the central instruments for becoming more independent of external factors in the future. In addition, individualised small series can be realised at low cost in order to produce small batch sizes economically with this technology. Networking and breathing manufacturing, no storage capacity and short transport routes are in the sense of resource-saving and CO2 reduced manufacturing processes.
The aspect of independence in connection with additive manufacturing has recently been regarded as less relevant by the industry, as globalization seemed to be on the relentless advance and global networking and its transport routes seemed invulnerable. Currently, companies are being confronted with a new situation as a result of the corona crisis, in the wake of which "make or buy" will no longer be a question of price alone in the future. If the current, possibly replicable situation is considered to its logical conclusion, it will become more important than ever for companies to give greater consideration to greater vertical integration, regional supply chains and modern technologies such as additive manufacturing.

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