3-D and the Global Supply Chain

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.

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First habitable 3D-printed cement houses set to appear in Dutch city

Cyclist passes 3D printed homes (concept art)3D printing experts at Eindhoven University of Technology are working with a construction company to create five pebble-like houses using a giant 3D printer.

The houses are being printed using a nozzle mounted on a large robotic arm, which follows digital designs to create houses layer by layer. A printable cement mixture, which reportedly has the texture of whipped cream, is extruded in thin ribbons. This approach to construction allows for waste to be minimised as no excess cement is poured out, as is the case when using moulds.

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