Manufacturing without limits (or bottlenecks)

Additive manufacturing (AM) generates significant interest due to its sense of creative freedom and ability to traverse both real and figurative boundaries. While this has so far found enormous support within smaller-scale manufacturing operations, it has become clear that larger manufacturers are also keen to benefit from the agile and innovative processes that AM can offer, but with that come logistical and economic hurdles.

Challenges and solutions

It is important to remember that the qualities that make AM so appealing also make it challenging to scale up. AM is a completely different process to the methods that have been typically employed by manufacturers over the past two centuries, so it cannot simply be slotted into an existing workflow; the entire ecosystem needs to be considered.

This is one of the areas that has proved challenging so far. Without a long history in industrial manufacturing, AM solutions – from design, to production, to post-processing – have evolved independently and without interconnectivity. At a time when manufacturers are increasingly aware of the benefits a connected digital thread delivers through a production process, many will find the prospect of integrating a disjointed AM workflow with completely separate data silos too troublesome, despite the potential benefits.

Hexagon’s expertise across a range of manufacturing disciplines presents the platform for just such an end-to-end solution for additive manufacturing. We put data to work to not only boost communication between separate systems, but also to enhance autonomy and efficiency.  With Simufact Additive, a specialised software solution dedicated exclusively to the simulation of additive manufacturing processes, linking to extensive production and metrology capabilities, manufacturers can weave Hexagon’s digital thread throughout their additive manufacturing process.

In doing this, industries such as aerospace and medical implants, for example, are able to maximise the specific benefits of AM at scale, overcoming many of the challenges that have so far made this difficult to achieve. Lightweight parts that remain strong through their complex, optimised geometries can play a major role in manufacturing the sustainable, innovative and more personalised products of the future.


As AM evolves from a process restricted to fast prototyping to a point where it is on the cusp of widespread adoption as a finished part manufacturing method, there is urgent need for integrated, end-to-end solutions. In our new whitepaper, Hexagon reveals how additive manufacturing can alleviate process bottlenecks, increase speed and reduce costs to realise its potential for agile, industrial-scale manufacturing.

We also look for answers to the current challenges within AM and impact of COVID-19 on awareness of AM’s agile qualities and suggest 5 pathways toward volume production, including the possibilities available through Hexagon’s smart manufacturing infrastructure.

The whitepaper forms part of Hexagon’s I AM campaign (standing for Industrialising Additive Manufacturing), which represents our commitment to providing manufacturers with more efficient and connected solutions, enabling industrial-scale additive manufacturing. As we will explore next, a key aspect of this approach is the use of dedicated, smart design software.


  • Richard Scott

    With more than a decade of experience editing B2B publications, Richard joined Hexagon in 2021 as Global Content Programmes Lead. Located in the UK, Richard has written for and edited a wide range of journals focused on subject areas such as electrical engineering and the chemicals industry.

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