From carpet floor to concrete floor: Desktop 3D printing’s impact on manufacturing

John Kawola, President, Ultimaker North AmericaThe manufacturing industry has always been directly impacted by the technological advancements of its time. From the advent of coal and steam as new sources of energy, the cotton gin and its impact on cloth manufacturers, and the assembly line for Ford, each has altered and benefitted the industry. As we enter Industry 4.0, a new batch of technology is shaping how, and how fast, we make goods. 3D printing is one such technology that is providing tangible benefits to those who implement it.

Desktop 3D printing, where users can design and print right at their desks or on the factory floor, has seen tremendous growth in the past several years, moving from strictly prototyping to actual production. The technology has opened huge possibilities for manufacturers, including quicker time to market, a reduction in costs, and an overall improvement in factory productivity

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Digital inventory: How 3D printing lets manufacturers rely less on warehouses of stuff

Supply chain management and the production and storage of spare parts represent something of a sticking point for the global manufacturing industry. Spare and replacement parts have traditionally been stored on shelves in warehouses after having been produced alongside the components used in original production assemblies. Many of these parts will take up space for years, with some going unused but staying put just in case. Out-of-production original assemblies may become fully obsolete once parts are no longer in stock, leaving owners at a loss and needing to reinvest in wholly new products to replace something that may have only been impacted by one broken component that couldn’t be replaced.

Many industries rely on physical inventory to meet aftermarket needs and have accordingly built up global supply and distribution networks.

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3D printing finds its place in the supply chain

In a 2016 “Logistics Trend Radar” article, DHL identified 3D printing as a major disruptive trend impacting logistics, due to the technology’s potential to “create instant production and distribution models.”

3D printer creating plastic parts

With just a single 3D printer, companies and consumers can:

  • Cut out steps in the design, prototyping, and manufacturing process
  • Improve delivery time
  • Reduce logistics and production costs
  • Enhance efficiency with greater sustainability

Today, 3D printing is already being used in a number of ways. Here are some of the companies and industries currently making use of this versatile technology:

  • Normal Earphones prints custom-fit headphones, which are designed by analyzing pictures of each customer’s ears.
  • NextDent personalizes dental crowns after performing a 3D scan of the teeth.
  • Medical professionals can now create inexpensive prosthetic hands.
  • Several manufacturers can customize shoe sole inserts based on foot scans.
  • Local Motors has designed the world’s first 3D-printed electric car.

Applications of the technology abound. It’s no surprise, then, that it’s also earning its place within the supply chain.

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From part to whole: overhauling the supply chain with ‘additive manufacturing’

As manufacturing evolves, so have expectations around how businesses produce and deliver their goods to market.

In fact, as countries across the region race to adopt Industry 4.0 solutions and practices to address increasing time-to-market pressures and shrinking product lifecycles, or product customization, many may assume that digital is the default.

However, the picture of the global manufacturing landscape reveals a different reality.

Legacy design systems have not always kept pace with the ever-evolving demands of business, resulting in high costs, loss in potential revenue, and inefficiencies for the businesses and people who depend on them.

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Reducing Time to Market with 3D printing farms and smart factories

Pedro Mier of Premo Group, Ignacio Artola Guardiola of Accenture, Ramón Paricio Hernández of SEAT, and Ramón Pastor, HP. Photo by Tia Vialva.As Barcelona Industry Week and IN(3D)USTRY: From Needs to Solutions Additive and Advanced Manufacturing Global Hub concludes, the future of 3D printing the path to industrialization shows promise.

With a focus on digitization and Industry 4.0, 3D Printing Industry sought to learn more on how such technologies work with additive manufacturing, by attending the IN(3D)USTRY talk “Printing Farms & Smart Factories.”

The following includes some of the insights made by Pedro Mier, Adviser and Member of the Board of Directors at Premo Group, Ignacio Artola Guardiola, Managing Director at Accenture, Ramón Paricio Hernández, Production Manager at SEAT, and Ramón Pastor, Vice President and General Manager of HP’s Large Format Printing.

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3D printing technology shakes up parts production for automakers, suppliers

Automakers and suppliers are on the cusp of revolutionary change through their growing use of 3D printing, a technology that can make custom parts on demand and has the potential to mass-produce parts.

Once the technology achieves critical mass, industry analysts say, 3D printing also could affect fixed operations at dealerships.

Many automakers now use 3D printing to make prototype parts for vehicle development, as well as tools and assembly aids for manufacturing operations. Several car companies are looking into making production parts with 3D printers in the next five years. Some automakers currently produce handfuls of small replacement parts, typically interior trim pieces.

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Procter & Gamble is testing 3D printed Gillette razors

The question of 3D printing’s applicability to mass markets is being tested.  Mass customization may be the next step towards it.


Gillette customers will now be able to order personalized 3D printed razors in a pilot program from parent company Procter & Gamble.

Razor handles will be printed using stereolithography, a type of 3D printing technology from Boston-based Formlabs and people will be able to choose from 48 designs and seven colors, priced between $19 and $45, including one razor blade. A pack of four extra blades will cost $15 and orders will shop in two to three weeks from the company’s new Razor Maker website.

3D printing has mostly been used in manufacturing, according to David Lakatos, chief product officer at Formlabs. “Mass customization with 3D printing is finally becoming a reality for consumers to experience end-use printed products,” he said in an online statement.

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Can technology help manufacture sports shoes locally?

3D printing and other technologies can radically transform the sportswear manufacturer’s supply chain.

Should Adidas 3D print its shoes?

The sports shoe market is quite exciting, with companies such as Adidas, Nike, Reebok and others trying to come up with innovative products while also reimagining the way they run their companies.

Given the strong, sustained, global demand for sneakers and all other kinds of sports shoes, it’s important for manufacturers to think about their supply chains.

Traditionally, they’ve conceptualized their shoes in advanced countries and manufactured in developing countries where labor is cheap and easy to source.

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Digital rail maintenance center demonstrates the increasing influence of 3D printing on modern-day manufacturing

According to press reports, Siemens Mobility GmbH opened a digital rail maintenance center in Germany that will utilize three-dimensional (3D) printing, also referred to as “additive manufacturing.” The rail center will service approximately 100 trains every month. According to Michael Kuczmik, Siemens Mobility’s head of Additive Manufacturing, the use of 3D printing will “rapidly and cost-effectively produce one-off, customized production parts.”

According to sources, the shift to 3D printing at the digital rail maintenance center eliminates “the need for inventory of selected spare parts” and “reduce{s} the manufacturing time of these parts by up to 95%.” Historically, replacement parts were procured through traditional manufacturing methods such as casting, with lead times of up to six weeks. Such procurement methods also typically required high volume orders to be cost effective, which led to unnecessarily higher inventory levels. By using the digital rail maintenance center’s technology, the same parts may now be 3D printed in 13 hours, reducing the need to maintain a significant inventory.

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Better logistics, 3D Printing will quickly return Navy and Marine Corps aircraft to service

Technological advances in production and distribution can strengthen the Navy and Marine Corps aviation parts supply chain the services’ aviation leaders said on Friday.

Improved spare parts logistics systems and 3D printing will increase flight availabilities and decrease costs, Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller, commander of Naval Air Forces, and Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, the Marine Corps deputy commandant for aviation, said at a joint appearance Friday at the Maritime Security Dialogue, sponsored by the U.S. Naval Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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