From parts for fighter jets, to prosthetic arms and legs, and concept cars, 3D Printing is being used to manufacture a huge variety of items. And with its use on the rise, it’s putting pressure on organisations to reassess their manufacturing and supply chains.
The latest industry to come into the sights of the 3D Printing revolution is one that might surprise you – fashion. It’s not strictly a new phenomenon (it’s been over a year since these items first appeared), but it’s worth noting for a couple of important reasons.
Firstly, unlike in other industries, the well-known clothing manufacturers are at the forefront of the efforts. Secondly, the consideration of what this might mean for the fashion industry in terms of manufacturing and intellectual property.
With the falling prices, 3D printers made a difference to verticals across the spectrum as they began to lap it up to enhance various applications. Producing everything from human organ replacement to printing footwear and even chocolates, AM’s applications are vast and are increasingly entering previously unexplored segments.
Although the AM boundary is limitless, as a technology it has gained recognition and has began to be taken seriously because of its ability to print human organs with accuracy. Apart from its medical application, the fact that it lends itself to large-scale industrial applications with its rapid prototyping applications is another reason for its acceptance. It helps improve efficiencies in the logistics chain by doing simulated versions of the original, create lightweight products and lowers production costs.
From Steve Banker of Logisticsviewpoints.com:
“My colleague Sal Spada wrote an article on new developments in the additive manufacturing space. Additive manufacturing, also called 3D printing, involves joining materials to make objects from a 3D model, usually layer upon layer. In contrast, much traditional manufacturing has been subtractive; Lathes, saws, and boring tools cut materials down to make a product.
There has been some breathless coverage of 3D Printing’s impact on the supply chain. In the supply chain realm is has been speculated that additive manufacturing could be able to transform the spare parts supply chain. The idea is that instead of carrying a plethora of slow moving parts across a network of warehouses, these warehouses could just manufacture the parts as needed.”
My colleague Sal Spada wrote an article on new developments in the additive manufacturing space. Additive manufacturing, also called 3D printing, involves joining materials to make objects from a 3D model, usually layer upon layer. In contrast, much traditional manufacturing has been subtractive; Lathes, saws, and boring tools cut materials down to make a product.
There has been some breathless coverage of 3D Printing’s impact on the supply chain. In the supply chain realm is has been speculated that additive manufacturing could be able to transform the spare parts supply chain. The idea is that instead of carrying a plethora of slow moving parts across a network of warehouses, these warehouses could just manufacture the parts as needed.
Multinational professional services firm Ernst & Young executive Channing Flynn examined the implications of 3D printing and rising interests of global corporation and conglomerates in an article published earlier this year in the Harvard Business Review. Flynn believes executives must analyze the opportunities 3D printing provides in optimizing inefficient operations.
In particular, Flynn’s analysis of 3D printing and its potential in a wide range of industries sets a focus on the adaptability and flexibility of the technology. As an executive of a multi-billion dollar firm and an expert in the field of taxes and payments, he perceives four main applications of 3D printing that could substantially reduce capital costs and human labor in most corporate operations:
- Distribution of Tangible Goods
- Online Purchases Printed at Will; Impact on ROI
- Cost of Traditional Manufacturing Process Overtake Value of 3D Printers
- Optimization of Operations
The concept of disruption and its applicability has been widely discussed over the past year. Digital technologies such as 3D print and additive manufacturing have been labelled game changers and potential disruptors, also for the maritime industry. The technologies are not widely applied in maritime yet, but more and more companies are looking into the potential changes and development opportunities of the technologies, both in terms of manufacturing, but indeed also in terms of new business models.
On 26 October Swedish Maritime Technology Forum (SMTF) and Green Ship of the Future (GSF) have invited MAN Diesel & Turbo, GKN Aerospace, Hoedtke, Alfa Laval and OSK Shiptech to discuss the potential for added value if applying 3D print and/or AM in maritime.
Over the past 6 months, GSF and 20+ maritime companies have deep-dived into the opportunity space for 3D printing in maritime, guided and inspired by 3D print and disruption experts such as DareDisrupt, but also main industry players such as General Electric, Siemens, Airbus AP works etc.
This event marks the conclusion of the project, but also the start of a new process where focus will be on practical appliance of 3D print in maritime companies and further investigation of new business.
You can learn more about the event here.
Shipping giant UPS has been a strong proponent of 3D printing, establishing 3D print services at its UPS stores in the U.S. and at its Louisville, KY, hub. According to recent stories in Reuters and Fortune, the company’s planned expansion of print services into new global markets finds Big Brown in more of a defensive posture.
The company is doubling down on additive manufacturing, expanding its print services to Asia and Europe. With expanded service, the company will be able to print and deliver plastic parts around the world.
According to Reuters, this expansion may be a way to help get in front of a potential decline in its parts storing and shipping operations – one caused by companies printing their own 3D parts. In 2015, the company reported $6 billion in forwarding and logistics revenue, roughly 10% of sales. It’s not clear how much its warehouse operations contribute to that total.
Leading figures from UK industry have joined forces with academia and government in the UK Additive Manufacturing Steering Group
Our world is evolving rapidly. A growing, longer-living population, a generation of digital toddlers, a changing climate and reducing natural resources are but a few examples of changes we face. Technology will be at the heart of our response. The speed and manner in which we develop new technologies to a position where industry can reap the full benefit of their potential will be critical to building a successful and balanced UK economy. It is also at the core of what the High Value Manufacturing Catapult is set up to do.
Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, already has begun to revolutionize how medical devices and other medical products are made, distributed, sold, and used. By printing layers of material on top of one another using a variety of materials, 3D printing allows for the manufacture of products whose forms are more fluid or organic, and whose structural integrity is the same as or greater, than traditional manufactured products.
According to a 2014 PwC survey, one-third of all manufacturers are adopting 3D printing. The medical device industry is no exception. Already, 3D-printed medical products such as customized implants, prosthetics, casts, teeth, and hearing aids are under development or commercially available. The FDA has approved or cleared more than 85 devices made using 3D printers. Where and how is 3D printing changing the medical device industry, and what does the future hold?
The way we do things in many industries is changing now perhaps more rapidly than ever before. Modern technologies are growing and evolving at exponential rates, carving new paths for start‑ups and disrupting blue chips. Technologies such as robotics, automation, drones, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing continue to reshape both company operations and customer expectations.
Now more than ever, organizations must innovate within their supply chains to remain competitive in a changing marketplace. This article outlines where 3D printing is in 2016, and how and why it should be implemented into the modern supply chain in order to develop and sustain competitive advantage.