Impact of 3D Printing on Supply Chain

Garima Khandelwal

Senior Writer

Impact of 3D printing on supply chain

Let us gather some information about what 3D printing is? How does it work? What is its impact?

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Program for 3D printing uses CAD tools to form three-dimensional objects through a layering methodology. Typically known as additive manufacturing, the best program for 3D printing involves layering materials, like plastics, composites, or biomaterials to build objects that can vary in rigidity, form, size, and colour.

Although we consider 3D printing supply chain management as a brand-new technology, the primary 3D printer was introduced nearly thirty years ago. So far, problems like sturdiness, speed, and protection of material possession rights have prevented 3D printing solutions from coming into established manufacturing.

However, the technology is creating speedy advancements around the globe, and it is just a matter of time before we witness it considerably impacting the world’s supply chains.

3D printing solution layers various materials to supply finished merchandise. Metal, concrete, body tissues, and food are all currently getting used as a part of 3D printing thanks to the technology developing in capability since its inception. Now, 3D printing is not restricted to only plastic prototypes.

What makes 3D printing so important?

3D printing in supply chain has extreme flexibility in what they can print. They use various materials for printing for example making use of plastics to print rigid materials, like sunglasses. Users can additionally produce flexible objects, like phone cases by blending a rubber/plastic powder. Some of the program for 3D printing even have the flexibility to use metallic powder and carbon fiber as 3D printing material for very sturdy industrial merchandise.

Why are 3D printers vital to the future?

Today, several 3D printers are used for what is referred to as fast prototyping. Corporations everywhere around the globe currently use 3D printers to make their prototypes in an exceedingly fast manner.

Instead of wasting months of time and so much money over-analysis and development, the user may now quickly print their prototype models. In fact, some businesses claim that the best program for 3D printing makes the prototyping method ten times quicker and 5 times cheaper than the conventional R&D processes.

3D printers will fill in the job in nearly every industry vertical. They are not simply being employed for prototyping. Several 3D printers are being tasked with printing finished merchandise. In the healthcare industry, 3D printers are being employed to build the components to repair broken ventilators for the COVID-19 occurrence.

The construction & development business is truly making use of 3D printing in supply chain to print complete homes. Colleges and schools everywhere across the world program for 3D printing is being used to bring active learning to students by printing off three-dimensional objects such as bones of animals or humans or by printing robotic pieces. The flexibility that is offered to users by 3D printing makes it a game-changer for any business.

Why are 3D printers vital to the future?

Today, several 3D printers are used for what is referred to as fast prototyping. Corporations everywhere around the globe currently use 3D printers to make their prototypes in an exceedingly fast manner. Instead of wasting months of time and so much money over-analysis and development, the user may now quickly print their prototype models. In fact, some businesses claim that a good 3D printing software builds the prototyping method ten times quicker and 5 times cheaper than the conventional R&D processes.

3D printing is a supply chain disruptor

The best program for 3D printing will be set to revolutionize future supply chains by reducing complexities involved with the manufacturing of products and their shipment process.

3D printing solution will benefit the supply chain market in various ways such as reducing world impact by limiting the shipping of products around the globe, increasing the speed to promote the product, allowing the printing of replacement elements in remote locations, and others. While 3D printing is not set to displace the accumulated production it will open a world of product personalization that will change the demand of shoppers.

Program for 3D printing allows corporations to style and manufacture new custom-made products to fulfil users’ growing demands for personalization. Customers became familiar with having the ability to demand products with variations that were earlier not available.

The increased access to e-commerce has rapidly escalated the requirement for retailers to be responsive and innovative. The in-depth use of mobile devices is additionally feeding the requirement for fast gratification and same-day deliveries.

To remain competitive within the online marketplace, corporations are turning to the best program for 3D printing in supply chain to make their product faster. Experts have anticipated that the worldwide marketplace for 3D printers and their associated materials and services can grow at a CAGR of 21%.

The advances in 3D printing in supply chain are a game-changer for makers. Some components can easily be printed on demand. This implies reduced lead times for business, lower inventory levels, and value savings in storage. Important competitive advantage can be gained by speed-to-market.

advances in 3D printing in supply chain

Source: scmresearch

Due to the availability of program for 3D printing this technology is proliferating around the world and it is increasing its speed and capability. Procurance groups that fail to acknowledge the awareness of the capabilities and change according to such a disruptive technology could notice themselves on the rear foot while trying to add value and increase market share to their companies.

There are multiple benefits that organizations may leverage from the adoption of 3D printing supply chain management, let us find out:

  • Imagine not putting restrictions on your engineering groups for their technical capabilities, because custom styles that incorporate multiple applications will become the reality.
  • The procurance process will cut back the tiers involved in the supply chain process all the way down to an efficient and coherent level that will provide you with complete visibility of the entire supply chain. This way users can increase the speed of supply and add value to their products.
  • It will reduce the inventory levels, as elements can be created at a local supply source or on-site.
  • Leveraging new market opportunities for suppliers by offering custom-made items at a reasonable price.
  • Environmental impact can be radically reduced by removing products from the process of manufacturing and ceasing the shipment of goods across the globe.

We now have a fair idea of what is 3D printing and supply chain and how does it help manufacturers in gaining the competitive edge over their competitors. Now let us see in detail how it impacts the supply chain.

  • Drive product customization – Known popularly for its too-less methods, 3D printing in supply chain offers manufacturers new freedom to tailor offerings to clients’ specific needs and enhance the client’s overall experience. This will cause the process to be more agile and the supply chain may quickly and easily adapt to changes within the market. Eventually, it is expected that production, style, and distribution will merge into one function of the supply chain with better and larger consumer involvement within the entire production and style process.
  • Decentralize production – The handy and compact nature of the technology will allow businesses to produce locally or remotely. As a result, we are going to see a shift far away from mass manufacturing in inexpensive countries in favour of native assembly hubs. Instead of relying on imports now, corporations can have the potential to provide elements nearer to home. This feature is extremely essential especially during times of geopolitical tension, for instance throughout a trade war because it is likely to happen that cost of elements increases rapidly.
  • Eliminates complex processes and improves time-to-market – 3D printing in supply chain combines the number of elements and processes needed for producing. This application will have a noteworthy impact on international supply chains by saving on production prices, decreasing complexities, enhancing lead times, and the time required to market any product.
  • Justifies inventory and logistics – As ‘on demand’ production is rapidly increasing, the requirement to move physical products across countries and continents can scale back. Combined with the lower range of SKUs needed for production, this will have a significant impact on logistics and warehousing. It can also have the potential to beat tariffs.
  • Improve resource potency – 3D printing supply chain management is a greener choice for conducting business. It makes the process a lot more energy-efficient and offers production techniques that are cost-efficient. It creates nearly zero waste, additionally, it eliminates the threat of overproduction and excess inventory, and reduces the carbon footprint.

3D printing supply chain

Source: sciencedirect

By now we understand how 3D printing supply chain management is changing the market landscape with its efficient techniques. But let us also find out which industries have already adopted the technique and how is it working out for them.

Healthcare – The healthcare sector has already started implementing applications of 3D printing to manufacture stock things, such as knee and hips implants, and customizable patient-specific merchandise, for example, orthotic insoles for shoes, hearing aids, customized medicine.

Aerospace & Defence – It is not new that aerospace has already embraced this technology, additionally, some non-critical 3D printed components are already being utilized in aircraft. Few corporations such as GE have already got over 250+ 3D. Similarly, the United States Air Force has put in seventeen 3D printed components on the C5 Super Galaxy, which has saved tens of thousands of dollars.

There are several other high-profile users of 3D printing technology such as Rolls-Royce, Airbus, and BAE Systems. In fact, Airbus has considered constructing an entire airplane with large-scale 3D printers.

Automotive – Several automotive corporations are already making use of the best program for 3D printing to assist with prototyping. You will be surprised to know that Ford has been making use of a 3D printing system

since the 1980s. Ford has also come up to make people understand the difference between the traditional method and 3D printing supply chain management. Ford’s website compares traditional ways that will take four months’ time plus $500,000, however with a program for 3D printing, an equivalent method takes four days and $3,000. Prospects are limitless, In January 2019, a 3D printer company disclosed the first 3D printed motorcycle.

The bike was not obtainable through the market due to its unavailability, but with help of this technology, it just took 3 days to print and a much lesser price.

Food & Beverages– very soon we might be witnessing 3D printed food in restaurants or in our houses. There are multiple cases where there is a blend of 3D technologies and food; this new producing methodology would create and mass manufacture food with complicated shapes and innovative recipes.

This will additionally provide customized meals to encourage diversity in the range of diets. For example, Hershey’s has already entered into a partnership with 3D Systems to create a 3D printer for chocolate and different edible merchandise.

Construction – through the technology remains in its infancy, important advances are created with the employment of 3D printers within the industry as construction giants begin to visualize the potential of the best program for 3D printing.

3D concrete printing is developing apace, and therefore the market is predicted to succeed. Now a lot of corporations are commencing within the sector to make new, innovative comes. As an example, a Russian 3D printing manufacturer printed a whole house in precisely twenty-four hours.

Chemicals – there is a magnificent opportunity for the chemical industry to introduce and drive new revenue streams by making proper use of 3D printing process. The chemical industry might realize itself at the centre of the producing method because it works closely with 3D printer manufacturers to develop new materials specifically designed for additive manufacturing. Major chemical corporations are already operating directly with 3D printer makers to create new polymers, resins, and powdered metals to place manufacturing into a new era.

Oil and Gas – Unlike the rest of the industries we discussed the adoption of additive manufacturing technology within the oil & gas sector is comparatively slow here, but it is correct to mention that the technology has huge potential in this sector as well. As an example, the best program for 3D printing allows organizations to access a bank of digital styles for on-the-scene printing within the field. This will have a significant impact on the speed and potency of apparatus repairs and maintenance, reducing the need to either maintain physical inventories of spare components or sit up for them to be factory-made and transported to a facility.

In the end, it can be said that many firms will be able to properly govern the management of their production processes by lowering their dependence on suppliers. As an example, access to an industrial 3D printer permits an organization within the business of manufacturing equipment to prototype and look at new components independently.

This would not solely accelerate time-to-market, however conjointly significantly cut back supply chain risks. Elimination of a few steps within the supply chain fetches lowers the risks of a third party not delivering on time. As long as you have got the raw materials necessary to provide the object, you will be able to use a 3D printer to make the merchandise. This allows users to avoid wasting cash and improve the accuracy of custom components.

In terms of inventory and distribution, additive manufacturing allows producers to print on demand, so probably reducing the requirement for warehouses. The amount of merchandise stacked in warehouses can be reduced significantly.

Furthermore, additive production avoids many of the restrictions of the traditional supply chain model, which relies on the demand for low-priced labor, production efficiencies, and the requirement of land for every step of the method. Instead, 3D printing supply chain management creates little batches of customer-specific merchandise with complicated designs that are not possible with standard strategies. That way, 3D printing process effectively reduces the requirement for big producing plants.

The 3D printing technology revolution is coming, and it is going to impact your supply chain even before you realize it. The sensible move is to start preparing by responding to the subsequent questions:

  • Which are the areas in your supply chain and operations that can potentially be impacted due to 3D printing process?
  • How do you defend your business and make the most of the opportunities that will come your way?
  • What is the business case and how should your supply chain and operations transformation look like?
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