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.
“With this simple software extension, we’re offering brands the opportunity to empower their customers to create truly one-of-a-kind products at affordable prices.”
3D printing online marketplace Shapeways has unveiled its first in-house product line, a fully customisable range of 3D printed jewellery called Spring & Wonder.
Customers can personalise the design and material of each piece from three collections, ‘Signature,’ ‘Celestial,’ and ‘Geometric’ in silver, 14K gold, 14K rose gold, brass and bronze. Pricing currently ranges from $45 USD to $350 USD.
Medical technology continues to advance all the time, with life-saving procedures and medicines that were previously unheard of. Now, Global Data believe that 3D printing could be as disruptive to healthcare as the internet has been to retail.
The company initiated a study for its Disruptor Tech database, and the results revealed that 3D printing could revolutionise the supply chain by limiting the gaps between sourcing, production, and distribution. 3D printing has the ability to create ‘clinical trial ready’ devices without the need for expensive tools, computer-aided manufacturing, and computer numerically controlled manufacturing. As a result of this, price is lowered and waiting times are also reduced.
Whether manufacturing personalised surgical guides, eye-catching consumer packaging, cutting-edge prototypes or anything in between, there are numerous advantages to 3D printing in transparent plastics.
The new materials designed, manufactured and supported by 3D Systems have pushed clear printing to the boundaries of what’s possible, offering ultra-high transparency, moisture and temperature resistance, biocompatibility, robustness and performance.
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.
The Dutch multinational banking and financial services corporation ING did a study last year that predicted that the mass adoption of cheap, high-speed 3D printing could decrease global trade by as much as 25%.
The reason given was that it would cut down production time and reduce the needs for imports.
However, a Harvard Business Review article in 2015 suggested that 3D printing works best in areas where customization is key, for applications such as printing hearing aids and dental implants.
In one of Wolfgang Lehmacher’s World Economic Forum articles, co-written with Martin Schwemmer of Supply Chain Services SCS, they argue that 3D-printing based production will bring factories closer to customers and products faster to the markets.
Nevertheless, it still has its restrictions.
Digital manufacturing is disrupting entire industry sectors, so be prepared to move quickly.
If you continue to see 3D manufacturing as theoretical, think again. It has been used to print everything from organs to custom footwear, and NASA even made a rocket engine injector from a 3D printer. However, most manufacturers haven’t looked at how they’ll incorporate digital manufacturing, much less begin to adopt it.
The push for personalized products, democratized innovation, rapid urbanization, changing demographics and sustainability are big trends that are changing our world, and the way work happens will dramatically change along with them. 3D manufacturing can help businesses navigate these trends by reducing time-to-market, improving inventory management, lowering logistics costs and increasing flexibility to meeting customer needs.
Recognizing its enormous potential, many public-private collaborations across Canada encourage 3D printing adoption in industries such as aerospace, automotive, consumer packaged goods, telecommunications and healthcare. This, along with the most recent PLANT Manufacturers’ Outlook report, sets digital manufacturing as a primary area for investment.
The world is undergoing some radical transformations related to the concept of “motorized transport.” This term was once synonymous with the automobile and the internal combustion engine, along with the conventional infrastructure supporting this technology like asphalt roads, filling stations and repair shops.
However, new technologies are rapidly expanding this category to include a variety of experimental transport solutions like gas-electric hybrids, fully-electric autonomous cars, eBikes, hyperloop elevated trains, jetpacks and flying cars. Given these advancements, it’s difficult to predict which approach will best fulfill our need for personal transport. However, I can safely say that metal 3D printing will be an even bigger part of the solution than it is today.
The German automotive manufacturer, Audi, has integrated the Stratasys J750 3D printer into its design operations.
The printer, the world’s only full-colour, multi-material 3D printer, has been adopted by Audi to innovate and accelerate its design process.
The firm has found that it is able to produce prototypes efficiently and effectively through additive manufacturing.
At its Pre-Series Centre in Ingolstadt, Germany, Audi has been able to reduce the prototyping time for its tail light covers by 50% since implementing the Stratasys printer, against methods such as moulding and milling.
“Design is one of the most important buying decisions for Audi customers, therefore it’s crucial we adhere to supreme quality standards during the design and concept phase of vehicle development,” explains Dr. Tim Spiering, Head of the Audi Plastics 3D Printing Centre.
Manufacturers are missing the board perspective on 3D printing. They need to completely reconsider their manufacturing processes.
3D printing technology has been around for decades, mostly used for creating prototypes. Advances in the technology have allowed 3D printing to morph into additive manufacturing (AM). When making one-offs or spare parts, 3D printing becomes a simple alternative to machining or molded parts. However, everything changes when it comes to production manufacturing. AM becomes a disruptive technology when you can print a single assembly that was previously 15 separate parts.
“The vast majority of those working with 3D printing still don’t see it in a broad enough perspective. They take this component or part that they’ve made for years, and say, ‘What would it take to 3D print it?’ It takes more time and money, and so they say this doesn’t work for us,” Jack Heslin, president and VP of business development at 3DTechTalks and Lazarus3D, told Design News. “But they’re not redesigning their manufacturing to take advantage of 3D printing. If they do, they might find that what was 100 parts will be 10 parts or less. That will affect their time-to-market, their accounting, their cost, everything.”