The aerospace and defense industry is increasingly using additive manufacturing to reduce material costs, decrease labor content, and increase availability of parts at point of use, which may have a dramatic impact on the supply chain.
Additive manufacturing (AM), popularly known as 3D printing, is a manufacturing technique that builds objects layer by layer using materials such as polymers, metals, and composites.
The production of 3D-printed parts signals a paradigm shift that is happening with the emergence of additive manufacturing. Additive not only offers the opportunity to design parts never before possible; Additive manufacturing offers possibilities for designing entirely new materials. Benefits from such new manufacuring techniques:
- Lighter weight – components can be more structurally efficient that machined, formed, or stamped parts
- Simpler design – the number of parts can be reduced by an order of magnitude.
- New design features – more intricate load paths and functionality of the components will enable higher durability vs. conventional manufacturing.
There are intellectual property risks, potential professional indemnity risks associated with design, as well as product liability risks and product recall risks associated with defective products.
When additive manufacturing comes to be used more regularly, it will create complexities around traceability. So insurers need to understand their client’s businesses very well – if there are multi-jurisdictions involved, if there are di erent regulators involved and how that will impact on the risks they’re underwriting. Product designers producing CAD les may face exposure if one of their designs for use in three-dimensional production could be shown to have caused a defective product to be created.
Technical risks: With collective experience in conventional machining that runs into the hundreds of years, managers are comfortable with the knowledge they have about how metals behave, the properties of the materials, what can be done, what cannot be done. Suddenly a new technology comes along, and they are very apprehensive, as there is limited understanding of the grain structure and how the parts will be formed in AM.