Lean and Mean: Why on-demand is in-demand for supply chain managers

The benefits of additive manufacturing in conjunction with virtual inventories are further demonstrated in the enablement of on-demand manufacturing – most notably with respect to batch-size.

In my previous column, I discussed the benefits of virtual inventories and how, by pulling parts from a digital (rather than physical) inventory and then quickly and seamlessly 3D printing these parts, supply chain efficiencies can be significantly improved.

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The benefits of additive manufacturing (AM) in conjunction with virtual inventories are further demonstrated in the enablement of on-demand manufacturing – most notably with respect to batch-size. In most traditional manufacturing technologies, the minimal batch size is quite large (tens- or hundreds- of thousands, and sometimes millions of items in a single manufacturing run). Think about it – with conventional production methods, there is a large cost of switching what the line produces and therefore manufacturers typically produce in one run for current and future expected future demands. This creates a physical inventory of spare parts that may or may not be used in the future. However, this is expensive to produce, store and manage, particularly when there is no guarantee the parts will actually be used.

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Lean and Mean: Why on-demand is in-demand for supply chain managers

“Digital inventory converted into physical inventory, as and when you need it, wherever you need and in the exact quantity required, equals true on-demand production with no waste.”

In my previous column, I discussed the benefits of virtual inventories and how, by pulling parts from a digital (rather than physical) inventory and then quickly and seamlessly 3D printing these parts, supply chain efficiencies can be significantly improved.

Supply Chain Management

The benefits of additive manufacturing (AM) in conjunction with virtual inventories are further demonstrated in the enablement of on-demand manufacturing – most notably with respect to batch-size. In most traditional manufacturing technologies, the minimal batch size is quite large (tens- or hundreds- of thousands, and sometimes millions of items in a single manufacturing run). Think about it – with conventional production methods, there is a large cost of switching what the line produces and therefore manufacturers typically produce in one run for current and future expected future demands. This creates a physical inventory of spare parts that may or may not be used in the future. However, this is expensive to produce, store and manage, particularly when there is no guarantee the parts will actually be used.

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INTERVIEW: Ivaldi launches on-demand 3D printing service for maritime sector with Wilhelmsen

Advanced and additive manufacturing service bureau Ivaldi Group has partnered with Wilhelmsen, the largest maritime network in the world. Operating from a new additive manufacturing facility in Singapore, Ivaldi will provide Wilhelmsen with on-demand spare part production for ships and other maritime equipment, potentially servicing upwards of 100 vessels per day.

Spare parts 3D printing at Ivaldi. Photo via Ivaldi Group

Speaking with Espen Sivertsen, CEO of Ivaldi Group, 3D Printing Industry learned more about the company’s latest move, and the apparent rise of additive manufacturing in maritime.

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Shapeways launches first in-house 3D printed jewellery brand Spring & Wonder

“With this simple software extension, we’re offering brands the opportunity to empower their customers to create truly one-of-a-kind products at affordable prices.”

18095-33-601.jpg3D printing online marketplace Shapeways has unveiled its first in-house product line, a fully customisable range of 3D printed jewellery called Spring & Wonder.

Customers can personalise the design and material of each piece from three collections, ‘Signature,’ ‘Celestial,’ and ‘Geometric’ in silver, 14K gold, 14K rose gold, brass and bronze. Pricing currently ranges from $45 USD to $350 USD.

Used as an ecommerce and on-demand manufacturing platform for thousands of small creative businesses, Shapeways’ tools allow simple 3D modelling experiences to be incorporated into users’ online shopping platforms. By coding in javascript and connecting to Shapeways’ software and systems, users can leverage interactive customisation and click-to-print services on their own sites.

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Is 3D printing the catalyst for true on-demand manufacturing?

Two recent announcements from HP and UPS may mark the beginning of a fundamental change in manufacturing on a scale not seen since the Industrial Revolution.

Although on-demand manufacturing isn’t exactly new—companies like Fast Radius (formerly CloudDDM), Proto Labs and 3Dilligent have been offering it for years—the entrance of major players like HP and UPS into the on-demand market could be game-changing.

UPS Collaborates with SAP and Fast Radius to Create On-Demand Manufacturing Network

Why would the world’s largest package and delivery company care about 3D printing?

The answer is logistics. Although 3D printing could eventually make physical deliveries obsolete, right now 3D printing services still need to ship their products. Rather than being eventually cut out as a middleman, UPS is aiming to stay ahead of the curve.

The company recently announced that it will launch a distributed, on-demand manufacturing network using the Fast Radius On-Demand Production Platform and SAP’s extended supply chain software. The goal is to network 3D printers at UPS Stores in over 60 locations throughout the US with Fast Radius’ 3D printing factory, integrating 3D printing into the existing UPS supply chain model.

Given that UPS is a minority investor in Fast Radius through the UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund (SEF), its choice to partner with this particular on-demand manufacturer should come as no surprise. Indeed, one can’t help but wonder how long this deal has been in the works.

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