FACTORIES, THE CHIEF innovation of the industrial revolution, are cathedrals of productivity, built to shelter specialized processes and enforce the division of labor.
Adam Smith, who illuminated their function on the first page of The Wealth of Nations, offered the celebrated example of a pin factory: “I have a seen a small manufactory… where ten men only were employed, and where some of them consequently performed two or three distinct operations. [They] could make among them upwards of forty-eight thousand pins a day… Separately and independently… they certainly could not each of them have made twenty, perhaps not one pin a day.”
But the benefits of factories suggest their limitations. They are not reprogrammable: To make different products, a factory must retool with different machines. Thus, the first product shipped is much more expensive than the next million, and innovation is hobbled by the need for capital expenditure and is never rapid. More, specialization compels multinational businesses to circle the globe with supply chains and warehouses, because goods must be shipped and stored.
How to leverage additive manufacturing to build better products
Architects don’t build without modelling. They create “blueprints,” produce renderings, and build 3D models. But while these planning tools may resemble the actual building in shape, there is no resemblance in size or materials. As a result, except in the case of manufactured or modular buildings, the finished product will be the first time that real building materials have come together in exactly that configuration. That is one of the reason that architecture tends to be conservative in its rate of change. Without real-world testing, big change is risky.
Over the last 5 years, 3-D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has had a tremendous influence in our industry. It is considered the current and future of almost any conceivable form of fabrication. Though this technology has been embraced by enthusiasts from small-time makers to international aerospace ventures, questions about its cost effectiveness are paramount to widespread adoption. Here’s why.
Costs of production for additive manufacturing fall into two categories: “well-structured” costs, such as labor, material, and machine costs, and “ill-structured” costs, which can include machine setup, inventory, and build failure. Right now, most cost studies focus on well-structured costs, which comprise a significant portion of 3-D printing production and are cited by detractors as evidence of cost ineffectiveness. Unfortunately, these studies focus on the production of single parts and tend to overlook supply chain effects, thus failing to account for the significant cost benefits which are often concealed within inventory and supply chain considerations.
Good opinion piece from Rob Enderle
Last week, I was in Spain with HP and much of the conversation was on how 3D printers were going to disrupt and revolutionize manufacturing. However, underneath all of the discussions was a growing concept that the factory itself, as these 3D printers advance and become more capable, would evolve into a huge and vastly more capable 3D printer. Except, rather than printing parts, these huge printers would print things like fully capable automobiles. Granted, we are likely a couple of decades out but talk about disruptive technology revolutions this could be a massive game changer because it anticipates a time when, rather than regional warehouses, Amazon might have regional mega printers.
Let’s talk about that this week.
Evolution of 3D Printers
Until recently, 3D printers were more of a science experiment than an actual tool. The parts, while physically representative, weren’t very robust or, if they were robust, they cost more than most other manufacturing methods. HP’s Jet Fusion printers changed that by producing parts that were about 1/10th the cost of aluminum, had similar strength, but came in around 1/10th the weight as well. Suddenly, we had 3D printers that could produce parts that were arguably better than traditionally produced parts and, rather than being more expensive, they were significantly less expensive.
For the oil and gas industry, digitalisation is much more than automation, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. It’s the opportunity to reimagine the design, manufacturing and operation of the assets and technology, leading to expansive breakthroughs in safety, efficiency and performance.
Nowhere is this promise more evident than in additive manufacturing (AM). More commonly known as 3D printing, AM will provide oil and gas companies with the power to transform how parts are created and optimised. The ability to fabricate parts on-demand stands to upend established and often inefficient supply chain models, reducing costs and opening the door for innovation.
Radical change is coming. The successes of early adopters, coupled with the wealth of expertise and resources now available, gives little reason for companies to press pause on starting their AM journeys. The barriers to entry have never been lower – and the rewards so high.
The history of the Oberle shoe company began more than 150 years ago. In 1859, the great-great grandfather of Oberle’s current General Manager, Achim Oberle, opened a cobbler’s shop in Ettenheim that made shoes for customers in town and the surrounding areas. In 2006, the company began specializing in “Healthy Shoes.” And today, it’s recognized as a leader in the orthopedic footwear technology space. The company saves a lot of time and money by using the German RepRap X350pro 3D printer.
Oberle – Gesunde Schuhe is a specialty manufacturer that develops products for everything associated with legs, feet, and/or extremities. Behind its products is a highly technical process. The so-called 3D posture analysis (which involves 3D measurements of whole body posture), as well as the 3D walking analysis (which measures gait, body angles, and forces), have long been standard procedures for this company. To stay on the cutting edge of the industry, Oberle – Gesunde Schuhe must continuously employ state-of-the-art technologies as they become available.
Trade shows often come with an unstated theme. The second LiveWorx conference in 2015 came with the theme: “IoT can be deployed from product development through manufacturing and customer use.” A couple years ago, Siemen’s PLM World users’ conference was all about digital twins. At Advanced Design and Manufacturing in Cleveland last year, presenters and attendees were talking about how small- to mid-size companies were ready for smart manufacturing technology.
At the Rapid TCT 3D printing show last month, the unstated theme on the trade show floor was: 3D printing is ready for product manufacturing. Not just small runs, not just custom production, but honest-to-goodness manufacturing across multiple industries. The buzzword on the show floor was “serial production”—code for “manufacturing.”
Chanel Parfums Beauté, the cosmetics unit of the famous French design house, has turned to 3D printing for the production of an unlikely item: a mascara brush. In partnership with France-based Erpro 3D Factory, Chanel says it will begin manufacturing mascara brushes on an industrial scale using 3D printing.
When applying mascara, one might not think twice about the wand they unscrew from the bottle and lightly drag across their eyelashes. The truth is, however, that a ton of engineering and testing has gone into that seemingly simple object before it was put into production, marketed, and ultimately purchased.
From being eye-friendly, safe, effective, and even aesthetically pleasing, a lot goes in to making a mascara brush, which is why Chanel became interested in exploring 3D printing technologies for their production.
Oracle’s Supply Chain expert, Dominic Regan, discusses the impact 3D printing is having on the supply chain and how the multinational database giant is supporting the dynamic additive manufacturing market by helping to increase business agility, lower costs, and reduce IT complexity
Oracle is best known for its database services, offered to business since the company started over 40 years ago. This technology background was the platform to expand into applications in the ERP space and several other disciplines including supply chain.
Oracle supports the classic approach to designing products, planning and forecasting supply and demand, focusing on procurement and the sourcing of products in the manufacturing space then providing the logistics of fulfilment via transport and global trade warehouse management before closing that cycle with service, so once a product has been delivered it can manage the repair and maintenance process.