Simplification of design – and therefore of the supply chain – is one of the biggest benefits of 3D printing.
Simulation and optimization help to develop a smaller, lighter antenna that could be made quickly.
Engineers at Optisys LLC, a company that makes complex antennas for high-performance aerospace and defense applications, recently completed a project that explored the advantages of using 3D printing to manufacture such devices. They also wanted to see if simulation and optimization could help them develop a smaller, lighter antenna that could be made quickly.
The test project involved a complete redesign of a high-bandwidth, directional tracking antenna array for aircraft (known as a Ka-band 4×4 monopulse array). Optisys handled every aspect of the design and printed the component in a single piece on a 3D printer from Concept Laser.
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.