Tag Archives: Supply Chain Impact

3D printing’s present and future impact on the supply chain

Great to see others picking up the wider implications of 3D printing on businesses!


There was a time not too long ago that the latest 3D-printing achievement—a car, satellite antenna, or even a house—dominated news cycles. The hype bolstered awareness of the technology, but it didn’t truly demonstrate 3D printing’s full impact—namely, its business impact. Increasingly, the technology’s true potential is being realized by more companies as they integrate it into their manufacturing processes.

(Image Credit: Stratasys Direct Manufacturing)One particular benefit of the technology is how it is reshaping supply chains. 3D printing has yet to completely revolutionize the entire supply chain, as some predicted at the height of the technology’s hype cycle, but it nonetheless has dramatically impacted the supply chain.

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3D Printing offers a clear vision for time, cost savings

Worker with a 3D printer.The ability to reduce time-to-market is one of the key selling points driving 3D printing technology and applications. In the world of manufacturing, it’s rare that this can be realized by one individual part. However, it appears that eyeglass frames are an exception to that rule, and one of 3D printing’s core companies is looking to leverage that dynamic.

Using traditional methods, it can take frame designers up to 18 months to get their newest designs to the retail space. To this end, Stratasys has created a rapid prototyping solution that is unique to the eyeglass market. Dubbed the VeroFlex Rapid Prototyping Eyewear Solution, Stratasys is hoping to trim as much as 12 months off this design-to-retail timespan.

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The “Amazon Effect” on the supply chain

From HuffPost:

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3D Printing: Seventy-one percent of U.S. manufacturers are currently using 3D printing in one way or another, according to a recent Manufacturing Institute study. Most use it to develop product prototypes, while 7 percent of companies use it to create end products. 3D Printing is a key differentiator for manufacturers that must quickly react to meet constantly shifting consumer demands.

[…]

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Dassault Systèmes and Airbus APWorks announce additive manufacturing plans for large-scale production

Additive manufacturing will be used for large-scale production in the aerospace and defense industry under a newly announced collaboration between Dassault Systèmes and Airbus APWorks.

The Airbus APWorks Lightrider. Photo by Michael Petch.Dassault Systèmes are leaders in 3D design software, 3D Digital Mock Up and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions. Airbus APWorks is a subsidiary of Airbus and has customers in robotics, mechanical engineering, automotive, medical technology and aerospace. APWorks has previously used 3D printing to make functionally integrated and optimized parts with reduced weight and lead time.

The announcement comes as the aviation industry gathers in Le Bourget for the Paris Air Show.

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Four ways 3D Printing is shaping technology in 2017

If you think printing is just putting ink on paper, the fast-moving train of technology has left you behind. Since the advent of printing, beginning with Johannes Gutenberg inventing the first printing press, printing technology has been growing at an astonishing rate. Recently, it has given birth to the new kid on the block, whom everyone is talking about: 3D printing.

Innovators are testing the waters with this new technology. And this revolutionary manufacturing process, considered impossible just a few years ago, has exceeded our expectations. It produced spectacular results spanning different industries, pushing them in new directions.

Here are four ways 3D printing is shaping technology in 2017.

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3D printing a Tour De France winner

With 25 years’ working with carbon fibre moulding, founder and CEO of Metron Advanced Equipment, Dimitris Katsanis discusses the advantages of additive manufacturing in the world of competitive cycling.

As a composites and design engineering expert, I have always been a dyed-in-the-wool Carbon Fibre advocate. I’ve been designing and building competitive bicycles for some of the speediest athletes on Earth since the 90s and, until recently, have always relied on carbon fibre for its versatility, lightness and strength. And don’t get me wrong, Olympic and Tour de France champions will attest to its benefits when it comes to producing medal-winning bicycles.

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3D printing – supply chain magic?

Imagine the time it takes to get a replacement part through a supply chain in a disaster zone or a naval vessel at war. Commercial organisations would keep a full range of spare parts near their operations however this is unrealistic in a disaster zone or on the front line during war. Far better if you can produce what you need when it is needed.

So how to overcome this conundrum? In an effort to overcome such scenarios, the aid community and some militaries are redesigning their supply chains by embracing 3D printing technology. Imagine being able to print components on demand, what impact does this have on your supply chain?

A recent article published in the Economist reports that an “American aircraft carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman, took two 3D printers on a tour of duty. During the tour the crew devised and printed such items as, better funnels for oil cans (to reduce spillage), protective covers for light switches (to stop people bumping into them and inadvertently plunging the flight deck into darkness).One of the Truman’s maintenance officers reported savings of more than $40,000 in replacement parts, the printers cost $2,000 each”. The article also reports that “Israel’s air force prints plastic parts that are as strong as aluminium, in order to keep planes that date from the 1980s flying”.

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Beyond the Hype: 3D printing’s impact on the supply chain

A great article by Kent Firestone of Stratasys summarising the many areas where 3D printing is affecting supply chains.


Stratasys 4 58d97a2b211ae3D printing has been around for decades, but it wasn’t until the last several years that its potential has been more broadly realized. During that awakening, there were many claims stating the technology would disrupt the supply chain. Although there’s no denying 3D printing is impacting the supply chain, the traditional supply chain remains relatively unchanged.

Before 3D printing can impact operations on a broader scale, there are challenges that must be addressed, such as equipment and material costs. And the conversation must shift from 3D printing’s technical benefits to its business value, thus highlighting its impact on the supply chain. As this becomes common knowledge, more and more companies can realize how 3D printing can give their operations an edge. Beyond the benefits at the macro-level, companies that incorporate 3D printing into their manufacturing processes are seeing tangible benefits across several areas.

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Big changes coming to the supply line, just not where you thought they’d be

Self-Driving TruckWhen talking about exciting new advancements that are coming to the supply chain, the discussion will always usually end up focused around 3D printing. Rightly so, as the 3D printer has opened up new opportunities never before possible in the supply chain. Rather than having to wait for a specialized part, companies can now print the part they need right on site. This can be a huge time and cost saver for companies involved in projects, but when looking at the overall supply chain worldwide, 3D printing is a pretty niche example. Even with 3D printers popping up everywhere, changing the way companies rely on the supply chain, there will always be limitations.

Sure, 3D printers might be able to print space habitats on Mars, but they can’t print everything and there will always be a need to transport an item(s) from one destination to another. 3D printing is revolutionary, but there is another absolute game changer about to deploy in the supply side that is an evolution; self-driving trucks. When looking at the amount of freight moved just in America alone, there was 9.2 billion tons (primary shipment only) moved by truck representing 67% of the total tonnage moved in 2011.

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