Category Archives: Supply Chain Impact

3D Printing set to revolutionize mainstream manufacturing

According to Gartner, 3D printing has great potential. Total spending is predicted to grow at a 66.5% CAGR to $17.7 billion in 2020 with over 6.5 million printer sales. Gartner also predicts that “by 2020, 75% of manufacturing operations worldwide will use 3D-printed tools, jigs and fixtures made in-house or by a service bureau to produce finished goods. Also, 3D printing will reduce new product introduction timelines by 25%.” Enterprise 3D printer shipments is also expected to grow 57.4% CAGR through 2020.

The top priorities related to 3D printing include accelerated product development, offering customized products and limited series and increasing production flexibility. Here are additional 3D printing market forecasts:

  • 57% of all 3D printing work done is in the first phases of the new product development
  • 55% companies predict they will be spending more in 3D printing services and solutions in 2017
  • 47% of companies surveyed have seen a greater ROI on their 3D printing investments in 2017 compared to 2016

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The value of additive manufacturing: future opportunities

Published in September 2017, in conjunction with Imperial College London’s Additive Manufacturing Network, this paper presents an overview of the potential economic, technical and environmental benefits of additive manufacturing (AM) – 3D printing – as well as the current hurdles across the AM process chain that need to be overcome to realise a more-effective and more-profitable industry. For example, improved design software, faster printing technology, increased automation and better industry standards are required.

Imperial College London is equipped to play a leading role in the UK’s ever-growing AM landscape. The current portfolio of AM-based research is varied and encompasses problems across the entire design-to-end-use-product chain. Research projects include, for instance, the development of new design methodologies for optimised multimaterial AM parts, novel metal-based AM printing techniques, investigations of fundamental AM material properties and 3D printing of next-generation biomaterials for medical applications.

AM research at Imperial can be further extended by capitalising on the College’s world-class scientific and engineering expertise and factilities, its culture of collaboration and history of effective research translation. There are several ways for external partners interested in the AM field to engage with Imperial academics: focused workshops, bespoke consultancy services, funding for specific research projects and facilities, or student placements

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3D Printing: The next great supply chain tool

Another tool in the supply chain toolbox, on-demand additive manufacturing promises lower inventories and costs, plus less waste.

adidas futurecraft 4d release date 5 5a09da816feb0The inability to perfectly correlate demand with supply has been a key riddle for supply chains and logistics throughout history. Too much product is a glut. Too little is a scarcity.

Striking a balance is hard, so suppliers use sophisticated algorithms to take their best shot at how much of their products will be needed at a certain time and a certain place to meet an uncertain demand.  Couple that with the need to produce products in large quantities to achieve economies of scale and the issue is exacerbated.

To deal with this, suppliers produce products in large quantities in low labor cost countries, ship and store those products near their customers, hoping that their demand projections turn out to be accurate. This projection is always imperfect, especially considering that the value of inventory in the United States alone was $1.8 trillion in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Assuming an inventory carrying cost of 25 percent, that’s $450 million U.S. companies pay each year to hold that inventory.

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Daimler Trucks launches 3D-printing technology in manufacturing to ease parts supply chain

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) announced Monday that it will make its first delivery of plastic parts produced using 3D printing technologies to its customers in the coming weeks, as part of a pilot programme. 

The company is confident that these new technologies will soon play a significant role in the trucking industry.

More importantly, DTNA sees 3D printing as an opportunity to better serve its customers, particularly those customers in need of parts that have been difficult to provide through traditional supply chain models, such as those for older trucks or parts with very low or intermittent demand.

During this pilot phase, DTNA says it will release a controlled quantity of 3D printed parts and will invite feedback from customers and technicians that receive them.

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GE breaks turbine energy efficiency record using additive manufacturing

GE's HA fleet status report as of November 27th 2017. Image via GE PowerGE’s largest and most efficient gas turbine the HA, nicknamed HArriet, has broken its own net efficiency record. Beating previous orders at 63.7% efficiency, the HA is now available at 64% under conditions recorded at a test plant in Greenville, South Carolina. The company attributes this feat to “combustion breakthroughs through constant innovation,” and applying additive manufacturing to a number of the turbine’s key components.

HA efficiency in figures

GE H-Class gas turbines are used by over 70 customers in combined cycle power plants around the world. By redirecting the waste heat generated by a gas turbine to a steam turbine, combined cycle power plants produce 50 % more electricity from the same fuel, i.e. natural gas, than a traditional simple-cycle plant.

Just 18 months prior to this new record, a 9HA.01 turbine earned a Guinness World Record for powering the world’s most efficient combined-cycle power plant. At the site in Bouchain, France, the GE 9HA produces enough energy to power 680,000 homes with an output of 605 MW.

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What was hot in Supply Chain Technology in 2017?

When it comes to new technology, development usually proceeds incrementally. But progress continues to be made on many fronts. Here is a look at some critical new technologies, and how the ARC Advisory Group assesses their maturity.

3D Printing of Spare Parts

The opportunity to use 3D printing – more accurately labeled “additive manufacturing” – to print spare parts is widely recognized.  In ARC’s conversations with industry insiders, we have come across many companies that have beta projects and are printing a small number of parts, but no company that is doing this at scale. There are a number of challenges associated with scaling additive manufacturing in the supply chain. However, the challenges are not insurmountable. New cloud-based solutions are very promising.

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How will 3D printing alter the movement of freight?

Turning bits into atoms in real-time? It’s as profound as the idea of instantly sharing thoughts across the world would have been to a person just a few decades ago. So how close are we to the dreams of the 21st century, and what does 3D printing have to do with it?

Mercedes-Benz Trucks is printing 3D parts for some of its European distributors. 3D printing could alter supply chains as businesses would not need to ship inventory or components long distances.

The story begins with manufacturing. Layer-by-layer, additive manufacturing, colloquially still called 3D printing, is a disruptive form of manufacturing that is transforming—in the short term—the spare parts supply chain. Soon enough it will be much more. A San Francisco startup is printing houses—with better construction and for less money per square meter than standard construction today. And if you think it’s all just plastic, think again. They’re printing cars. They’ve been printing jet engines since early 2015.

Around the globe, people are using 3D printing to create all manner of things, even 3D printing food. Instead of carrying slow moving parts across a network of warehouses, these warehouses will just manufacture the parts as needed. 3D printing offers many advantages over traditional manufacturing, like the ability to print hard-to-find machine parts on demand, or print shapes that aren’t found in traditional manufacturing processes.

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Emirates VP: Everything in the cabin should be 3D printed

Emirates has for the first time used cutting-edge 3D printing technology to manufacture components for its aircraft cabins.

The airline used Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), a new 3D printing technique to produce video monitor shrouds.

Emirates has worked with 3D Systems, a US based 3D printing equipment and material manufacturer and services provider, and with UUDS, a European aviation Engineering and Certification Office and Services Provider based in France, to successfully print the first batch of 3D printed video monitor shrouds using 3D Systems’ Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technology platform.

The airline has also 3D printed, received certification for and installed aircraft cabin air vent grills for on-board trials in its first class cabins.

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The Future of Advanced Manufacturing: Design for 3D Printing and implementation of digital factories

3-d-printingWe are still in the early days of 3D printing with respect to the impact that it can deliver both technologically and conceptually. Accepting new ways of designing parts is the first step. From there, we need technology that can help us deliver on the promise of complexity.

If the global engineering and manufacturing community plans to keep unlocking the full potential of industrial 3D printing, together they will have to keep rethinking the fundamentals of design engineering and digital factories of the future.

The Global 3D printing community has grown exponentially since it was invented in 1983 by Charles Hull. The industry has established industrial verticals like aerospace and medical due to major adoption from several leading organizations to satisfy complex needs. Companies that utilize 3D printing are looking to lightweight parts, to create new channels for thermal heat conductivity, which explore new material mechanical properties.

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Volkswagen officials speak to the future of 3D printing in automotive

Project leads at Volkswagen high end/luxury car brands Audi and Porsche are conducting research into the benefits of 3D printing for future car production. In addition to the effective application of FDM for prototyping and reducing tooling costs, researchers at Audi’s Competence Center in Ingolstadt, Germany, and Porsche are adding metal to Volkswagen’s additive manufacturing portfolio, and researching the potential of carbon fibre reinforcements.

Counting the desktop 3D printers at Volkswagen Autoeuropa, the Volkswagen group in total, has 90 3D printers at 26 of its sites around the world.

At Volkswagen Osnabrück in Germanythere is currently project to demonstrate the potential of  weight reduction by using 3D printing. In one example use case, a reinforced A-pillar window support has been optimally redesigned to constitute fewer parts, and weighs 74% less than it’s traditionally manufactured counterpart.

With less weight, cars consume less fuel, providing better performance for the manufacturer and the customer.

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