As the global market outlook grows darker, manufacturing embraces tech solutions

U.S. Bank’s latest quarterly Freight Payment Index for fourth quarter describes a positive economic environment for the U.S to end 2018 but it also points to one of a possible slow down as we progress into 2019. The U.S. Bank National Shipment and Spend Indices both increased from the third to fourth quarters, with the Spend Index increasing 7.2% to a record high. Meanwhile, the National Shipment Index rose 1.7% from the third quarter.

Indeed, despite the positive end to 2018 and midway into the first quarter of 2019, the year’s outlook is even murkier than in December when the U.S. Bank noted concern for a possible slow down this year. So many unknowns on the economic stage as one wonders the effects of additional tariffs that are expected to increase in March, the lack of UK government guidance as Brexit looms with just a month to go for the final break, China’s economic downturn and a growing concern of a global recession.

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Why the digital factory of the future will be driven by the value network

An open-access, end-to-end digital thread is bringing mass customization to mass production.

Fig. 1

The world of making is changing, and businesses are digitally transforming from mass production to mass customization as consumers demand individualized, emotional experiences. New technologies such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) are starting to significantly impact how products or experiences are designed and manufactured. Meanwhile, social apps, Big Data, and the Cloud are creating opportunities to interact with and understand the consumer in totally new ways. So how do we bring these new data streams and technologies together to produce meaningful business insights?

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How 3D printing is reshaping global production

As dark clouds gather over the global economy, manufacturers find themselves in the crosshairs

Long supply chains and a dependence on frictionless trade leaves manufacturers at risk to rising protectionism and slowing global growth. But a surprising form of technological defence could be available to them in 3D printing. Here are five key ways in which the tech could upend the economics of traditional manufacturing, while spurring innovation and cutting pollution.

  1. 3D printing offering economies of scale

Perhaps the biggest benefit of 3D printing could be its potential to cut costs, says Galina Spasova, senior research analyst at IDC. 3D printers reduce the number of steps required to assemble a finished part or product, speeding up the manufacturing process for some products, she says.

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The journey to utilising 3D printing across the manufacturing space

Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention and that is certainly the case with Kora.

Founder Steve Burrows was already enjoying considerable success with his first and long-term venture, Impex Parts Limited, a company that has been supplying OEM and Aftermarket parts to the motor trade for over 20 years. Changes to EU Motor Vehicle Block Exemption had seen demand for “Original Equipment Parts” increase rapidly and Impex was regularly receiving requests for parts that it was finding difficult to source externally.

Kora SC

The company decided to explore 3D printing as a solution and, finding it worked well, went on to own several commercially available 3D printing machines. Initial success soon turned to disappointment, however, when these 3D printing machines began regularly breaking down, requiring Impex engineers to spend a considerable amount of time fixing and maintaining them. Confident in both the skills of his engineers and the technology but frustrated that a better alternative did not seem to exist, Steve decided to develop his own 3D printer machine and Kora was born.

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11 myths about Additive Manufacturing, Part 1

AM is surrounded by much hype, but are you getting the whole story?

Five years ago, Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman gave us Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing,1 helping to both create and ride a wave of enthusiasm for 3D printing. This enthusiasm, combined with the infusion of U.S. government funding and the expiration of key patents, prompted many to buy a 3D printer for the kids and make stock investments in rising star companies.

Powder bed processes

Along with their book, Lipson and Kurman  gave us the 10 Principles of 3D Printing as a roadmap into the future to explain why 3D printing will disrupt manufacturing and product design. I bought and read the book and enjoyed it. I get that “no one wants to follow a small dream,” but as a process engineer with a background in advanced materials, digital design, and manufacturing, I knew it was not that easy.

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How emerging technologies can transform the supply chain

Most companies are still only at an early stage on their journey towards a true digital supply chain transformation. That’s partly due to history, because companies have traditionally sold products and services through linear value chains as well as an antiquated IT infrastructure making even relatively simple digital initiatives a big challenge.

However, as digital ecosystems consisting of market networks enable hybrid forms of cooperation and competition with shared data in the cloud, it is no longer an option to not be digital. One important challenge is identifying the right supply chain use cases that will provide a competitive advantage and can be addressed utilizing a digital-based solution. There are three key digital supply chain trends having significant positive impacts on clients: lights-out planning, blockchain and 3D printing.

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Medical 3D Printing: Where Are We Now?

In 2015, market research firm Gartner projected that medical 3D printing would become the pioneering field that would drive additive manufacturing (AM) into the mainstream in two to five years. Four years have passed, so we’ve decided to examine the industry to determine if Gartner’s predictions have come true.

Gartner’s 3D printing hype cycle curve from 2017, the most recent graph made public by the firm. (Image courtesy of Gartner.)

In this article, we’ll explore a handful of medical 3D printing stories from the past year to gain perspective on the level of adoption at which the technology stands.

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Is 3D printing ready for scaled production?

While additive manufacturing has received attention for its promise of mass customization and generative design, not everyone believes it’s ready for large-quantity production.

Forecast 3D, 3D printing, additive manufacturing, prototyping, mass customization, HP multi-jet 3D printing

3D Printing is revolutionizing design and customization. It has become the go-to process for prototyping. As an additive manufacturing (AM) process, 3D printing has proved effective in many applications in Aerospace and Medical, but technical constraints may be holding 3D printing back from become that next manufacturing revolution.

For one, few companies have redesigned their products and supply chains for AM friendliness. “One of the biggest barriers to additive manufacturing is that the way companies utilize the technology doesn’t match what their production requires,” Ken Burns, technical director at Forecast 3D, told Design News. “When opportunities to use additive manufacturing come to the production side, there are so many barriers. You need to do x, y, and z, to make it work, and that affects the price point.”

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Truck OEMs, suppliers look to online growth, 3D printing

Equipment and component manufacturers in the trucking industry are looking to expand their online presence and also see potential in 3D printing, both of which could help them reach more customers, they said.

A technician works on a part that was made using a 3D printer.

Daimler Trucks North America is expanding alliancetruckparts.com, its e-commerce platform, and has seen an increase in customers using pinnacletruckparts.com, its dealer-sponsored e-commerce solution.

Ultimately, customers will decide how they communicate with the company, said Stefan Kurschner, DTNA’s senior vice president of aftermarket.

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The Fourth Industrial Revolution will change production forever. Here’s how

A hallmark of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is the convergence of the digital and physical worlds, which is in turn blurring traditional boundaries throughout the value chain.

Printed wheels of the nearly completely 3D printed e-motorcycle NERA, of the German 3D printer manufacturer BigRep, are pictured in Berlin, Germany, December 3, 2018. Picture taken December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke - RC138FEC5C00

3D printing, for example, can help companies meet the growing consumer demand for product personalization. The fashion brand Ministry of Supply now uses scanning and 3D printing in its stores to create sweaters mapped to an individual’s thermal profile, in under 90 minutes.

Of course, this is just one example. The scope of the changes now underway are too vast to be recounted here. Rather, this article points to a specific business model innovation – 4IR Production Platforms – that can help players across the value chain adapt to and prosper in the Fourth Industrial Revolution using the power of digital technologies.

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