Category Archives: Supply Chain Impact

3D Printing Could Bring Supply Chain Closer to Customers

G. David Gerrard

Most of the talk surrounding 3D printing (aka additive manufacturing) in the trucking industry centers on how it can be used to supply replacement parts for older vehicles. But the real value in 3D printing is much greater than that, including potentially enabling a return to more customization in the initial vehicle specification and manufacturing process, reduction in life cycle costs and bringing the supply chain closer to customers.

By its very nature, 3D printing allows parts to be made on a smaller scale and without a manufacturer having to commit the major resources required to mass produce a product.

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Supply chains are looking better in 3D

It is proving a useful tool in enabling companies from multiple sectors to revolutionise their supply chains and 3D printing can also achieve significant cost-savings

3D printing product developmentTransforming computer-designed ideas into physical objects by applying layers of materials with a 3D printer is moving beyond early-use cases in manufacturing to make logistics more efficient and reduce costs across the supply chain.

MH Development Engineering, specialists in engineering bespoke systems and products, installed a 3D printer to enhance both its manufacturing business and systems design for research and development.

When creating systems that solve engineering problems, the company must be able to test concepts quickly. The 3D printer has aided this process by allowing prototyped parts to be created overnight.

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Audi harnesses SLM Solutions metal 3D printing for spare parts and prototypes

Audi SLM SolutionsSLM Solutions has revealed automotive giant, Audi has been using its selective laser melting process to produce prototypes and manufacture rarely-requested spare parts.

The German company has sought to adopt SLM’s metal 3D printing technology to target a number of automotive applications. Typically, it is the smaller, more complex, and less cost-sensitive components, like the water adapters for the Audi W12 engine, which are produced on-demand by Audi with an SLM 280 machine, that are most suitable to be additively manufactured.

Audi has been utilising metal additive manufacturing for special application areas, able to manufacture sizable components on the 280 x 280 x 365 mm3 build space. Thanks to the machines’ powerful 700W lasers build times are reduced, enhancing productivity while maintaining quality. It is enabling Audi to manufacture on-demand, supplying spare parts as and when they are needed, rather than producing them in advance and putting them into storage. Simplifying logistics and warehousing, implementing an on-demand production approach brings both economical and sustainability benefits, in addition to the rapid prototyping and greater creative freedom 3D printing technology is renowned for.

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DB Schenker steps up involvement in automotive logistics

Essen/Berlin – DB Schenker plans to deploy innovative solutions to meet the rising expectations of customers in the automotive sector. This will see the logistics service provider focus on the latest developments in the car industry, such as 3D printing to manufacture replacement parts, in addition to continuing its provision of long-established core services. Schenker wants to devote its energy to meeting the technological requirements of “additive production” and maintaining its progress in this field. The major benefit for customers takes the form of reduced warehousing costs, as spare parts are manufactured only when they are required. Faster production reduces delivery times. Similarly, DB Schenker plans to strengthen its market position by specializing in storing and transporting lithium batteries. Battery logistics entail extremely complex processes, as car batteries are classified as hazardous items requiring special transportation and storage.

“Our declared aim is to offer our customers around the globe the best logistics services in the aftermarket sector. Thanks to our vast experience in the automotive sector, our highly trained specialists and our dedicated innovation and quality programs, I am confident that we will achieve this aim,” says Stephan Allgeier, Vice President Vertical Market Automotive – Global Business Development Schenker AG.

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Deep diving into additive manufacturing for aerospace

Additive ManufacturingVanguard of the additive manufacturing industry Stratasys has seen its 3D printing technology take off in the form of in-flight parts on aeroplanes, and in June 2017 the company conquered additive manufacturing in aerospace by launching its Fortus 900mc Aircraft Interiors Certification Solution.

There is much more to additive manufacturing for aerospace than getting parts approved by the OEM for installation in a working aircraft. Eric Bredin, Vice-President Marketing EMEA for Stratasys, set out just what it takes to get a Stratasys-printed machine into the lower stratosphere.

“In general, aerospace is a very interesting segment as it’s a market in which we have a lot to play with,” he explained. “What we are trying to influence is concept design right through to production and there are many areas in this industry where we can be very active.”

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Porsche has started 3D Printing parts for classic cars

Porsche has a huge supply of spare parts to keep its classic cars on the road, but it doesn’t have everything. Supplies of certain components run out, and often, it’s way too expensive to build a bunch more, especially for limited-production cars like the 959. That’s why Porsche Classic has turned to 3D printing to make limited numbers of certain spare parts.

Right now, Porsche is manufacturing nine spare parts using 3D printers, and it’s testing 20 more for production viability. The parts offered now include the clutch-release lever for the 959, a crank arm for the 964, and others.

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Additive Manufacturing makes waves in industry

Over the past few years additive manufacturing (AM) technology has grown in popularity as companies explore its potential. Applying layer upon layer of polymers can create objects of almost any shape and geometry guided by design files, and now, recent developments have made it possible to print metal parts and components, making it a potentially disruptive innovation for the supply chain.

AM has already had an impact on other industries such as aviation—Airbus agreed in October to a deal to manufacture polymer parts for use on its A350 XWB aircraft—and now, as oil and gas companies look to adopt AM into their supply chain management, service companies are breaking through with new machines and processes that may facilitate larger-scale production of parts and components in the future. In addition, a new guideline has been established to help bridge the gap between the quality assurance of parts created by an AM process and those created through traditional manufacturing processes.

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3D printing helps Latécoère cut lead times

Latécoère is deploying Stratasys FDM additive manufacturing throughout its design and production process.

French aircraft design and manufacturing group Latécoère is deploying Stratasys FDM additive manufacturing throughout its design and production process. Latécoère – which services aerospace giants including Airbus, Bombardier and Dassault – is using its Stratasys Fortus 450mc Production 3D Printer for both rapid prototyping and production tooling. According to Simon Rieu, composite and additive manufacturing manager at Latécoère’s R&D and Innovation Center, the adoption of this technology has been transformational for both design and manufacturing.

“Additive manufacturing has integrated seamlessly into our design and production process, and has seen us enjoy improved lead-times, reduced costs and enhanced operational efficiency,” he says. “As the requirements of the aerospace industry become more demanding, we’re also mindful of the need to maintain our competitive edge, and Stratasys additive manufacturing enables us to meet that objective.”

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FedEx launches 3D printing inventory and repair company Forward Depots

FedEx and 3D printing venture has been expected for some time.

From 3D printed drone-delivery, to on-demand bureau services, postage and shipping companies are investing in the future of additive manufacturing.

In the latest news from the logistics sector, FedEx has announced that it will be launching a new, 3D printing oriented, company under the name FedEx Forward Depots.

The company is the product of a company-wide structural realignment, dedicated to “customized,” “convenient,” and “intuitive” services.

Van, truck, plane, or 3D printing? Fedex is committed to customer deliveries. Image via FedEx

Van, truck, plane, or 3D printing? Fedex is committed to customer deliveries. Image via FedEx

FedEx and 3D printing

When UPS started offering on demand 3D printing services in 2013, many predicted that FedEx would be quick to follow. A case study from 2014, featuring 3D printed medical implant manufacturer Stryker, in fact shows that FedEx has been paying keen attention to 3D printing, and the idea of “Going local” with manufacturing.

“Currently, some medical device companies are delivering 3D printed implants manufactured around the world to hospitals within 24 hours,” reads the company case study.

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Impact of 3D Printing technology on supply chain in China

H.K. Chan, J. Griffin, J.J. Lim, F. Zeng and A.S.F. Chiu from Nottingham University Business School China, University of Nottingham Ningbo China, Law School at University of Exeter, Exeter, UK, and De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines  prepared a very insightful paper on the impact of 3D printing on supply chains, with a focus on the Chinese market, but with lessons that can be extrapolated to other countries. Well worth a read.


Abstract:

The 3D Printing (3DP) industry has been receiving increased public attention. Many companies are seeking ways to develop new means of creating and disseminating 3DP content, in order to capture new business opportunities. To date, however, the true business opportunities of 3DP have not been completely uncovered.
This research explores the challenges posed in the development and deployment of 3DP, and focuses on China which is still the main manufacturing hub in the world. By means of empirical semi-structured interviews with 3DP companies in China, the current application of 3DP technology in the industry and the associated challenges are investigated. Although many companies can see the benefits of 3DP, its potential has not been delivered as promised. Several areas have been identified that could be improved further. The interviews with 3DP companies are used to learn about the gap between the 3DP technology in depth, and 3DP industrial applications which can further improve the growth of the 3DP industry.

To read the paper, click here

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