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Companies that can adapt quickly to different situations have many benefits compared to companies that are stuck in their old working routines. Underlined by the global Covid-19 pandemic, which hit the world in March 2020, creating new unforeseen challenges and an uncertain future. For example, companies with a rigid supply chain faced production problems because assembly parts could not be delivered in time. A frozen supply chain can occur when a business depends on too many suppliers or haulers. If one of those companies has difficulties, can’t deliver, or is delayed, it can directly influence production and make the business dependent. It is a vicious cycle because customers will quickly change their behavior and go to a competitor for their products. That does not only mean that the business will likely stop growing, but the competitiveness will be low compared to rival companies. Another challenge that arises from the inability to produce is that you will have to store even more parts in your warehouse and have a capital lockup with all the parts you store but can’t manufacture and sell. In that time, they can also lose their value and have to be disposed of in a worst-case scenario.
All those problems and challenges can arise when a company is not adaptable enough, whether it be due to a rigid supply chain, a hard framework, unexpected events, or rising competition.
Being adapted helps with those situations, as you are more independent, and it provides you with a piece of security in an insecure business environment.
Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing is a reliable manufacturing technique used by several different industries, like drones, electronics, automotive, jewelry, and many more. It combines other printing techniques like Selective Laser Sintering, Fused Deposition Modeling, Polyjet, and Stereolithography; what printing technology you choose depends on your desired material. Even though 3D printing still sounds new to many people, it has been around for almost 40 years. It, therefore, offers many different materials – powder, plastic filaments, resin, and metal can all be printed. The best part about 3D printing is its ease, especially when working with an online printing service like Sculpteo. You only need a 3D file, and after uploading it to our site, you choose your material and technology, and we will do the rest.
If you want to know more about this topic, feel free to look at our Ultimate Guide about 3D-Printing. However, 3D printing is not only a great new technology for producing parts; it can also help your business to become more adaptable.
Of course, now the question arises as to how Additive Manufacturing can play a vital role in the adaptability process of a business. By using 3D printing, you can adapt your business (for unexpected world events or sudden changes in market trends) from different sides and strengthen your business from within. As seen in our State of 3D printing 2021 report; 41% of participants stated that the Covid-19 pandemic did not influence their 3D printing strategy; 17% said they slightly increased their additive manufacturing operations, while 3% significantly raised them. We can see that many companies rely on 3D printing in difficult times. But how exactly can it help to advance your adaptability? Let’s see together, shall we?
When it comes to the design of your products, 3D printing offers a whole new way of thinking, as Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) helps optimize your products and reshape your entire business strategy. 3D printing is free from constraints, unlike traditional manufacturing, and offers an increased amount of flexibility. It allows you to create versions that are just as strong and capable of the stresses and forces of your old parts but use less material, therefore reducing the weight and costs of your part. Options to reduce the weight of your parts are, for example, the usage of a lattice structure or hollowing your parts.
When you want to optimize the weight, it is advisable to work with topological optimization software and experienced additive manufacturing designers, like our team from Sculpteo Studio. The experts working in design subjects will support you at any step of your project, whether by identifying possible opportunities or the manufacturing process of your finished part.
Many businesses struggle to become more adapted because their assembly process is rather complicated and includes many different assembly parts, which can lead to higher costs and assembly time, and a lot of inventory in your warehouse. However, 3D printing can become the ultimate solution in those cases as the design freedom allows to design many common fixings, supports, brackets, and fasteners already into the part, eliminating the need and effort for these extra components and simplifying your whole supply chain
3D printing helps create precisely the parts the company needs, so there is no need to rely on “off-the-shelf” components that may not fit perfectly. You can say goodbye to standard solutions and create a competitive advantage by constantly reacting to your customer’s unique needs. Especially for industrial fields like electronics or drones, this custom solution can make a difference to customers. The company Hexadrone, for example, used 3D printing to create their customized drone, TUNDRA. You can read the whole customer story here.
With Additive Manufacturing, you can have a digital inventory of all your parts, and when you need a part, you just have to send them to an online printing service like Sculpteo to print the exact number of parts you need when you need them. You can also have a digital inventory for spare parts, printing them when your customers need them, and effectively reducing your warehouse costs and eliminating material waste.
You can also use 3D printing to produce “Just-in-time”(JIT). With JIT, manufacturing goods are not made in advance but when there is a demand within the production cycle. Multiple benefits arise with this manufacturing strategy, like waste elimination, improved productivity, better supplier relationships, reduced storage, and a lower manufacturing time.
3D printing can be handy when it comes to a flexible production line. Additive manufacturing is not only a good option for creating your products but also for producing tooling as well as adapted parts for your production process. You can create a part, like a gripper, that can be used for multiple products and connects perfectly with an existing robot arm or machinery. The use of Additive Manufacturing for a flexible production line is a widely used method in many industries as it ensures consistency when new products are created.
The longer a product development process takes, the higher the costs will be and the quicker your competitors can bring out a similar product o the market. As competition rises, time becomes a crucial factor for success. While product development for traditional manufacturing can be quite tricky, 3D printing makes it easy and can be seen as a real game-changer. In our 2020 The State of 3D printing, 80% of our participants confirmed that 3D printing significantly improved their speed of innovation. It allows for quick production of the initial draft and offers the opportunity to iterate and test as much as you want and need. With 3D printing, you also have the advantage that the costs for a single batch are relatively low compared to traditional manufacturing. You are allowing your business to become adaptable and stay ahead of your competitors.
When you use traditional manufacturing, like molding, handcrafting, or machining, it can be challenging to produce short series or limited editions as they can be rather expensive. With additive manufacturing, this is not an issue, as there is no minimum quantity. You can choose precisely the right amount you need, whether a single object or 10.000 parts. Using 3D printing for short series or limited editions allows you to prevent significant investments in new production lines but rather see how the market reacts and let it dictate your investment.
Customization provides customers with a unique experience and puts the power in their hands, as they can precisely decide what they want. Indeed, many companies have discovered the potential of customization. Compared to traditional manufacturing, 3D printing allows businesses to create unique products without using a lot of time and money. Being able to provide a customization experience for customers gives your company a great advantage.
In the last few paragraphs, we showed the many benefits additive manufacturing could have for the adaptability of your business. Now it is your turn!
With Sculpteo’s online printing service, you can start your journey and benefit from all the advantages discussed. With our know-how and expert designers and engineers at Sculpteo Studio, we can help you with all your additive manufacturing needs. We know that the 3D printing industry can be overwhelming initially, and we want to offer you the best support possible to help you become more adaptable. You can find a lot more information on our website or through our Learning Hub, where we talk about all things 3D printing-related. You can also contact us directly.
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