3D PRINTING – Disruptive Innovations transforming the Future of Supply Chains by Abhilasha Satpathy, DCMME Center Graduate Student Assistant

The real breakthrough in the supply chain domain is the arrival of 3D printing as a serious competitor in finished product markets. The technology is slowly gaining acceptance in applications that are “taking it from the prototype to the production-grade stage for smaller components.” The potential changes are many.

Here are a few possibilities.

3PL to Manufacturer 3PL

A new type of 3PL could emerge that offers manufacturing services through 3D printing.  Operators like UPS are well positioned to take on this role because a number of intellectual property issues must be resolved before AM methods become ubiquitous. As a trusted third-party provider, UPS has the market stature and scale to function as a new type of hub where products are made, assembled, and distributed.

A New Breed of Agile Supply Chains

With 3D printers operating as standalone installations in strategic locations, companies could manufacture in short runs at multiple sites across the globe. The networks would flex with shifts in demand by reconfiguring the manufacturing nodes or by adjusting machine outputs. Production units shift rapidly from one product variant to another without the need for retooling or lengthy line delays. The AM model also offers tremendous opportunities to cut inventory costs, because there would be less need for inventory. The management of raw materials inventory also would be streamlined as production processes generate less waste.

Streamlined Maintenance

Armed with 3D printing, machine repair services “don’t have to have every single component; you can print components when needed,” says Ulrich. Positioning parts inventories would become much less of a challenge for teams in the field.

Extreme Just-in-Time

A flexible, highly adaptive network of 3D printing installations could take just-in-time and postponement operations to new levels of efficiency. AM methods could be used to produce precise quantities of customized components very late in the final production cycle when more accurate demand information is available.

New Risk Management Dimensions

Opportunities for improving risk management represent another potential benefit of AM-based manufacturing. Low market-entry barriers and the ability to retool quickly reduce business risk. The technology also provides companies with a rapid-response mechanism when an unforeseen incident disrupts the supply chain.

Green Premium

Since additive fabrication is less wasteful than traditional production processes, it reduces carbon footprints. Similar benefits accrue from innovations such as Oxman’s revolutionary design processes that increase functional efficiency, while reducing material content.

References: https://ctl.mit.edu/sites/ctl.mit.edu/files/library/public/Disruptive_Innovations4_1.pdf

Questions:

  1. How are supply chains changing due to 3D printing?
  2. How does 3D printing help in making the manufacturing industry more green?
  3. How is 3D printing helping in risk management?

 

One Giant Leap for 3D Printing

By Andrew Gunder, DCMME Graduate Assistant

nasa-3d-printer-recycler-refabricator-hg-500x417

Think for a second. You do not have the tools you need to perform your job, but have limited materials and resources to make what you need to accomplish your tasks. What if the process could be simplified? What if you were in outer space? It just so happens that there is a solution.

The International Space Station (ISS) is employing the use of a combination 3D printer and recycler. Dubbed as a “Refabricator”, this device turns waste into reusable parts and tools. Due to the scarcity of resources in space the refabricator is able to recycle previously printed items, parts, and other on-board plastics into much needed tools for the ISS crew. This is key in reducing the station’s on-board waste and reduces the need to potentially jettison the waste into space.

This device is still in an experimental stage, but its implications for promoting an environmentally sustainable future have yet to reach their full potential. The idea that an all-in-one, on-demand, user friendly machine will some day be widely available here on Earth is a game changer.

 

 

How does this device promote a more sustainable environment?

What other materials/items here on Earth might be worth refabricating?

What industries do you think this technology could have the greatest impact on?

Source: https://3dprinting.com/news/refabricator-3d-printer-launched-en-route-to-space-station/

3D Printers and Embedded Electronics

In the article “Engineers 3D Print First Fully Functional Drone With Embedded Electronics & Aerospace-Grade Material”( http://www.3dprintpulse.com/?open-article-id=5863467&article-title=engineers-3d-print-first-fully-functional-drone-with-embedded-electronics—aerospace-grade-material&blog-domain=3ders.org&blog-title=3ders)  a recent 3D printing innovation is explored. Normally, embedding electronics in 3D prints is a challenge due to the high temperatures used during the printing process (160C). However, Philip Keane, an NTU PhD candidate, modified and embedded commercial grade electronics at key stages throughout the printing of the drone. The drone design is able to support 60kg of suspended weight, and “stands as the first fully operational quadrocopter to be 3D printed in ULTEM 9085 – a high strength, lightweight FDM material certified for use in commercial aircrafts – all in a single step”. While it does state in the article that the “entire process proved to be meticulous”, it did have a successful ending. In total, printing the drone took 14 hours, with 3 individual pauses to embed the necessary electronic equipment. Now that embedding electronics within 3D prints is an option, what future innovations are coming? Only time will tell.

3D Printing Our Way to Space

The article “The Possibilities of Weight Reduction with Additive Manufacturing” (http://3dprinting.com/metal/possibilities-weight-reduction-additive-manufacturing/) reviews a partnership that Atos, a Spanish digital solutions company, and Materialise, a 3D printing services company in Belgium, have formed. These two companies how to partner up to improve current technologies within the aerospace industry. The first initiative they took was to improve a mounting piece that is generally used to attach heavy and large structures to satellites. They were able to reduce the weight by utilizing lattice structures to form a strong, yet hollow per component which weighed 70% less! Amazingly enough, the material they 3D printed was titanium, which is known as the “best performing metal for AM technology”.

The 5Ps of Additive Manufacturing

In the recent article “Lockheed Martin Looks to Catch Up in 3D Printing”(http://advancedmanufacturing.org/lockheed-5ps-additive-manufactuirng/), an overview is provided of a seminar in which Robert Ghobrial, the additive manufacturing lead, spoke. Robert Ghobrial was clear that while Lockheed Martin is still exploring 3D manufacturing and the most effective ways to use the new technology, they were making great headway, and had already seen some recent successes. Ghobrial also provided what he called “The 5Ps of Additive Manufacturing”, which outline how additive manufacturing can help aerospace, defense, and other businesses. The 5Ps are:

  1. Proposal: “3D printing can make giveaways at trade shows; architectural and space models; and aid in customer/client communication.”
  2. Prototype: “3D printed prototypes help with design validation and proof of concept development.”
  3. Procurement: “Can we make something vs. buying it?”
  4. Production Support: “3D printing can support production by helping make assembly fixtures, manufacturing tooling, production templates, inspection fixtures and machine safeguards.”
  5. Production: “AM can produce end-use parts; make parts on demand for spares, warranty and repairs support; and even manage obsolescence.”

These 5Ps provide all of a unique perspective into some of the ways many businesses may be able to employ 3D printing. How effective will additive manufacturing be in the long run? Only time will tell.

Is 3D Printing Really the Future?

All over the media we are reading about how 3D printing is going to change the manufacturing industry completely. Is this fact a guarantee? The article “The Limits of 3D Printing” (https://hbr.org/2015/06/the-limits-of-3d-printing) give a converse view to this new technology. Per the article, “…the economics of 3D printing now and for the foreseeable future make it an unfeasible way to produce the vast majority of parts manufactured today”. Because of this assumption, the author proposes that we “…look to new areas where it can exploit its unique capabilities to complement traditional manufacturing processes”. Building off of this statement, the article also addresses the theory that with 3D printing, global supply chains will become a thing of the past by stating that “this vision does not stack up to economic reality”. One of the widely accepted benefits of 3D printing is that product customization is much easier. Despite this fact, the article states that “… 99% of all manufactured parts are standard and do not require customization”. Due to this fact, “… when customization isn’t important, 3D printing is not competitive”. How much of these ideas are fact? Is 3D printing the future, or just a complement we will utilize for customization? For now, only time will tell.

Is 3D Printing the Future?

All over the media we are reading about how 3D printing is going to change the manufacturing industry completely. Is this fact a guarantee? The article “The Limits of 3D Printing” (https://hbr.org/2015/06/the-limits-of-3d-printing) give a converse view to this new technology. Per the article, “…the economics of 3D printing now and for the foreseeable future make it an unfeasible way to produce the vast majority of parts manufactured today”. Because of this assumption, the author proposes that we “…look to new areas where it can exploit its unique capabilities to complement traditional manufacturing processes”. Building off of this statement, the article also addresses the theory that with 3D printing, global supply chains will become a thing of the past by stating that “this vision does not stack up to economic reality”. One of the widely accepted benefits of 3D printing is that product customization is much easier. Despite this fact, the article states that “… 99% of all manufactured parts are standard and do not require customization”. Due to this fact, “… when customization isn’t important, 3D printing is not competitive”. How much of these ideas are fact? Is 3D printing the future, or just a complement we will utilize for customization? For now, only time will tell.