Cummins has sold its first metal part printed on one of its own 3D printers, moving the company a significant step closer to the exciting potential of additive manufacturing.
The part was a low-volume bracket for a customer in Cummins’ New and ReCon Parts division and did not have a current supplier. The company is focusing first on printing low-volume parts as it studies how best to use 3D technology in higher volume manufacturing.
“With this technology you can really unshackle the designer to do things you just can’t do using traditional forms of manufacturing,” said Brett Boas, Director-Advanced Manufacturing at the Cummins Technical Center in Columbus, Indiana (U.S.).
Parts can be made lighter, stronger and more effective using metal 3D printing compared to parts created using more traditional methods that employ molds, molten metal and equipment to precisely cut and shape the part.
3D printing creates three-dimensional objects one ultra-thin layer at a time. If the part doesn’t come out quite right, the designer can simply change the computer design file and print it again; a much faster process than using traditional manufacturing techniques to build a test part.
Now that 3D printing is moving towards industrial-grade production levels, many companies find themselves excited about the possibilities but not sure how to fully make it part of their operating model. This has created a gap where companies are slow to adopt additive manufacturing. Fast Radius is looking to bridge this gap.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Fast Radius, an advanced digital manufacturing company, is empowering industries to embrace additive. According to Lou Rassey, CEO of Fast Radius, the company offers “technology-agnostic solutions”, including additive manufacturing, and end-to-end processes for the design and manufacture of industrial-grade products. Customers come from sectors including aerospace, automotive, and medical.
The company is driven by a singular mission to “Make new things possible” for today’s manufacturers – whether that’s unlocking new business opportunities through additive manufacturing or making formerly “unmakeable” products. To achieve its mission, Fast Radius built a proprietary model that combines digital manufacturing with advanced physical technologies. This model led Fast Radius to be recently selected by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and McKinsey & CompanyInitiative on Shaping the Future of Production as a Fourth Industrial Revolution “Lighthouse”.
Even companies with the best-laid plans for supply chain digitization often struggle to achieve their goals, and recent Capgemini research provides some insight into the various factors holding some businesses back. The study, which suggests that many businesses remain stuck in the planning phase of digital transformation, offers several useful takeaways.
Released in December, “The Digital Supply Chain’s Missing Link: Focus”report surveyed more than 1,000 supply chain executives in the consumer products, manufacturing, and retail fields.
Key Survey Takeaways
The opportunity for cost savings was the primary motivator for the executives interviewed, with 77% saying that this impacted their decision in aiming to digitally transform the supply chain. Increasing revenues (56%) and supporting new business models (53%) were also cited.
According to estimates provided by the Pentagon, 3D printing capabilities will be increasingly integrating into the U.S. Army, reported by Devon L. Suits, Army News Service earlier this month.
As 3D printing increases both in the field and at depots, the Army’s Center of Excellence for Additive and Advanced Manufacturing is slated to reach initial operating capability this year at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois.
Lt. Gen. Aundre Piggee, the Army’s deputy chief of staff, G-4, outlined the Army’s current 3D printing capabilities at the 2019 Military Additive Manufacturing Summit and Technology Showcase Feb. 6, in Tampa, Florida.
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.
- 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.
FATHOM, a Californian design studio, has used additive manufacturing to create a Modular Logistics Vehicle (MLV) for the United States Marine Corps (USMC).
Frustrated by the unresponsiveness of traditional supply chains, Marines from the 29 Palms base generated the concept of converting standard utility vehicles into customizable transport suited for a diverse range of missions.
This project was facilitated by the Launch Forth platform, as well as Deloitte, and Siemens.
One of the major advantages of 3D printing is in the ability to reduce part count. I’ve always felt that this advantage doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It is hardly mentioned in the media and its implications and advantages seem to not be understood. Therefore here is my attempt at a hopefully convincing article on reducing part count through 3D printing.
By reducing part count, we mean that a complex thing such as a rocket engine consists of a 100 parts when made with conventional manufacturing. When we redesign that rocket engine for 3D printing we can then perhaps reduce the total number of parts to three. NASA and other aerospace companies have already found this out by reducing parts from 115 to one.
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.
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.”
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.
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.