3d Printing in Manufacturing

It’s been just a decade since 3D printing has seen a boom in public attention, and in such a short time span, it has started to act as a hazard to many industries. Each and every sector has had a ricocheted effect by this evolving 3D printing technology. It is important to see how was the 3D printer originally made.

3D printing threat to manufacturing

The development of 3D printing technology has a huge impact on the industrial manufacturing market which is quiet debatable, as it has both, pros and cons. Some industry experts openly put it up – ‘3D printing threat to manufacturing’ by stating that it is hugely disruptive, while few still have faith in the technology. As stated by the website On 3D Printing, “The 3D printing industry is expected to change nearly every industry it touches, completely disrupting the traditional manufacturing process. As a result, the projected value of the industry is expected to explode in the near future.” In fact, On 3D Printing projects that the market for 3D printing technology itself is expected to grow to $5.2 billion by 2020. [Source] Like every other market, the growth of 3D printing market has resulted in growth of many competitive companies and new prototypes resulting in decrease in the cost thereby increasing the competition within the industry. Complex? Just compare it with the toothpaste industry, too many brands, fighting for consumer attention, each brand occupying the same brand position. In the same way, the evolution in 3D printing industry has seen the same growth curve with increasing competitors in the market.

With 3D printing, the production team is given greater flexibility since assembly is a single operation and set up time is reduced to nearly zero. Due to flexibility in this new assembly line process, sales representatives would be able to push orders faster and in a greater capacity, since they are fulfilled almost immediately without waiting for optimal production windows which can accommodate the particular tooling or material used for each order. Additionally, the manufacturing process can be done at a lower cost and every order can be treated like a rush order with shorter production time.

On the other hand, shorter production time and lower overhead costs to the manufacturer doesn’t mean that companies will no longer be able to collect value out of a strategic pricing process. Companies may still be able to charge the same price and even enjoy an increased margin rate due to the specificity and uniqueness of products available via 3D-printing processes. Because the manufacturers’ costs are less, they can decide how much of that cost savings to pass along as a price reduction to customers in order to secure business and keep it out of the hands of competition, or how much to keep in their pockets as increased profits.

But how 3d printing impacts manufacturing?

3D printing is used by the automotive and aerospace industries to build prototypes. Not just that even medical industry and drug manufacturing industry are been taken over by the 3D printing charm. Over the last few years, the market share of additive manufacturing is likely to grow. Seeing how rapidly the various 3D print technologies have developed so far, we can assume that more and more industries will invest in it. Manufacturers are already exploring which items they may be able to produce using 3D print technology, and logistics service providers are launching pilot projects to identify the need, potential and options for adjusting their business models to include 3D print services. Logistics Trend Radar, published by DHL, expects an annual growth rate of 13.5 percent for additive manufacturing. The 2013 study predicts that the global market of USD 1.8 billion in 2012 will grow to USD 3.5 billion in 2017. And the 2014 report cites a McKinsey study that forecasts a market of USD 550 billion in 2025. Experts agree that 3D printing promotes local and regional production, and that the next 20 years will see 3D print centres emerging close to sales markets. [Source] From the printing of jet engine parts to soccer cleats, the technology is being hailed as a revolution in how more and more products will be developed, produced…and even sold.

  • Manufacturers—from small job shops to multinational industrial products firms—are crossing the threshold from tinkering with prototypes to the production of final products.
  • 3DP has the potential to shrink supply chains, save product development times and increase customization offerings to changing customers with expectations that products be tailored to their preferences and needs. Indeed, 3DP has arrived on the factory floor and into R&D.
  • According to a PwC survey of US manufacturers, two of three companies are already adopting 3DP in some way—from experimenting with the technology to making final products. [Source]

The benefit that 3D printing has over the general manufacturing process in every industry, is that it makes the manufacturing process options infinite and extremely precise. To elaborate; nowadays, the model generated in CAD system can be edited and any excess material which might not be required is cut away from the model. By doing the editing in CAD, the product which is then ‘printed’ is automatically a modified or rather, the advanced model. In normal mass manufacturing industry, this editing stage is not an option, thereby a model can’t be easily adapted (quickly).

For now, the impact of 3D printing on industrial manufacturing is merely theory, but manufacturers who choose to ignore the benefits and transformation associated with this technology risk falling prey to those that embrace it. 3D printing continues to evolve at a rapid pace and each day we’re seeing something new created from it. What started as fabrication of plastic screws and small parts made of glass has turned into full manufacturing of complete end-products — working automobiles and even buildings have been 3D printed in a single manufacturing action. This proves that the possibilities of 3D-printing technology are endless for manufacturers.

3D printing risks

The issues before regulators include how printed products will perform over time, the consistency of their quality, and an awareness of the materials used. Although many are not currently exposed to government regulation and inspection, a plan should be developed to proactively institute quality and safety standards. The Food and Drug Administration recently released an additive manufacturing working group, and the list of questions and concerns gives a sense of the level of scrutiny that can be expected. For its part, the FAA says it is making efforts to understand the implications of 3D printing in the aerospace industry.

Increases in the risk of design theft as the underlying software file could easily be used to produce counterfeit products. Although this insurance was historically expensive and restrictive, we have seen a material trend toward the availability of viable insurance products to protect our clients.

Consult with a creative and knowledgeable attorney to address liability at a contractual level with strong hold harmless and indemnification language, and work with your insurance broker to develop favorable insurance language and limits.

On our regular reader’s request, recently we also wrote on the latest medical advances in our article “3D Printing Medical Advances made Till date”. You should take a look at those amazing ways how 3d printing is changing medical science.

Read more: This Technology Could Have The Biggest Impact On American Jobs Since Offshoring , 7 ways 3d printing is already disrupting global manufacturing, threats and opportunities for 3d printing industry on 2016 whats your guess.

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