Digital Thread for Additive Manufacturing (DTAM)

Mark Vitale, Joe Schibi
Deloitte Consulting LLP, Virginia, United States

Keywords: digital thread, advanced manufacturing, additive manufacturing, systems integration

Additive manufacturing’s (AM’s) roots go back nearly three decades. Its importance is derived from its ability to break existing performance trade-offs in two transformative ways: product optimization and distributed production. Yet, the advanced capabilities of AM that have the potential to transform the product development and supply chain of tomorrow have been largely confined to the research lab. For an invention to become an innovation, it needs the right enabling system. An invention provides a new capability, but an innovation operationalizes that capability for the masses. To enable a scalable AM production capability, it starts with laying the groundwork for an integrated system that provides end-to-end product lifecycle management – the digital thread. The digital thread, a single seamless strand of data that stretches from the initial design to the finished part, promises to address many of the challenges hindering AM’s deployment outside the research lab. It seamlessly links together disparate printers, computer models, and associated data, collecting valuable information from every stage of the product lifecycle to enable repeatability, validating this data to ensure quality and process control, and feeding insights downstream and back upstream to drive smarter decisions moving forward.