Clothes shopping can be frustrating for people with uncommon shapes or understocked sizes; you rarely find what you want, and when you do, it rarely fits 100 percent comfortably. 3D printing may change the nature of the retail experience for that group — and for retailers who can’t always predict what their customers want.
“A lot of people are passionate about this tech,” says Fatma Baytar, an assistant professor in Cornell University’s department of fiber science and apparel design. “People are trying different ways to make it user friendly. It’s a neat idea.”
Some companies are already experimenting with 3D printing in the manufacturing process. Adidas began making customizable, 3D-printed midsoles for its running shoes in 2015 and is now using an advanced version of 3D printing that creates a finished product with more consistent quality and durability.
Using 3D printing to revolutionise the traditional supply chain in partnership with one of the world’s largest construction companies.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Immensa Technology Labs (Immensa), the UAE’s leading Additive Manufacturing (AM or 3D printing) company, is providing its game-changing ‘Inventory Digitisation’ solution to one of the world’s largest construction companies —the Consolidated Contracting Company (CCC). With Immensa’s solution, CCC is exploring ways to create a digital inventory of its spare parts and components, meaning the company will ultimately minimize import and stock physical parts but can instead produce some on demand from a ‘Virtual Warehouse’.
Eng. Aref Boualwan said “if we can get to a point over the next few years whereby a small percentage of our inventory can be digitized the impact will be significant.” Eng Boualwan, who is overseeing some of CCC’s President Initiatives within disruptive technology implementation, added “what encouraged us to embrace inventory digitization is simplifying the supply chain and the ability to reproduce items in remote areas when and where it is most needed. Also, Immensa’s solution has significant environmental benefits as it ultimately reduce the need to transport products across the world. Ultimately, this contributes to reducing the industry’s carbon footprint and cuts waste by producing only the exact number of parts that are needed in close proximity to where they will be used.”
We’ve all heard about the transformational impact that 3D printing will have on product design and development. Previously impossible designs are now possible with 3D printing (also known as additive manufacturing or AM). For example, the technology extremely complex internal channels that are impossible to create with traditional manufacturing possible by literally “growing” a part layer by layer.
Additive manufacturing is also transforming product development. Timelines once measured in years are routinely being condensed down to months and even weeks. Parts that would have taken six months (or more) to produce via traditional manufacturing techniques like metal injection molding (MIM) are now taking six days or less with additive manufacturing. In today’s fast-paced, hyper competitive world, fast innovation and product development are key sustainable competitive advantages.
The force multiplier behind all of this is the maturation of metal 3D Printing processes to the point that production volumes are now possible.
Understanding how to identify where to use 3D printing in a supply chain is one of the first key questions to address.
From warehouse robots (very real) to equipment that you control with your mind (in the labs), new technologies appear so regularly that it can be hard to separate real from science fiction. But in the spare parts business, 3D printing has become “here and now”. Beyond cars and machine tools, 3D printers are now making spare parts to order for the US Marine Corps, container ships, and beverage filling plants. PwC’s recent survey of German manufacturers said that 85 percent of the spare parts providers assert that 3D printing will play a dominant role in their business.
As you approach this new technology, one question to consider is how to segment your inventory portfolio to determine which spare parts in your supply chain are best suited for 3D printing versus other approaches. In addition to supply-side considerations such as manufacturability, this requires analyzing cost-to-serve across alternative distribution approaches and demand-side characteristics like order-lines per year and demand volatility. Then the spares portfolio can be segmented into three categories.
Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, a subsidiary of US digital manufacturer, Stratasys (Eden Prairie, Minnesota; www.stratasys.com) has been chosen by Airbus (Toulouse / France; www.airbus.com) to produce 3D-printed plastic parts for use on the “A350 XWB” aircraft.
Using Sabic’s (Riyadh / Saudi Arabia; www.sabic.com) flame retardant and high-performance thermoplastic “Ultem” 9085, Stratasys will print non-structural components such as brackets and other parts used for system installation. Stratasys said the project will help Airbus achieve greater supply chain flexibility and improve cost competitiveness while also reducing material consumption and waste. This, it said, will bring tighter turnaround times and lower inventory costs.
Additive manufacturing — popularly known as 3D printing — has been touted as the next big thing in manufacturing, but its impact will soon be seen in supply chain management.
Additive manufacturing — the creation of product parts or components from a digital 3D model — has gotten a lot of attention lately, and rightly so: It’s one of those ideas that’s simultaneously wildly innovative, and yet glaringly obvious.
Indeed, with the benefits of additive manufacturing causing a stir in manufacturing, and, therefore, in supply chain management, 2017 is looking to be a breakout year for the technology.
No longer a clever parlor trick for creating action figures and novelty items, additive manufacturing is poised to take on a serious role as a manufacturing alternative worldwide. In 2015, the additive manufacturing industry grew to $5.165 billion, representing a growth of nearly 30%, according to “Wohlers Report 2016.”
A great article by Kent Firestone of Stratasys summarising the many areas where 3D printing is affecting supply chains.
3D 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.
Ford, BMW already on board; medical deemed biggest opportunity in years ahead
The 3D-printing technology developed by Carbon (Redwood City, CA) has grabbed the attention of plastic parts manufacturers because it enables printing speeds that are up to 100 times faster than current additive manufacturing methods. Beyond introducing a new technology, CEO Joseph DeSimone believes his company’s innovation could open the door to new business models by offering manufacturers unprecedented efficiencies and savings.
The company calls its technology continuous liquid interface production, or CLIP. DeSimone has a simpler way of describing it, explaining that the Carbon process uses light and oxygen to shape a part as it emerges from a pool of resin. The company says this approach to 3D printing permits a faster, continuous process that produces parts matching the quality of injection-molded plastics.