3D printing is changing the manufacturing landscape. Prototyping becomes easy with 3D printing, and it has practical applications in Aerospace and Medical. However, technical barriers are stopping 3D printing from becoming a standard manufacturing norm.
It is additive manufacturing (AM) process, and few companies have redesigned their products and supply chain according to the process. Companies fail to implement AM because they don’t align the technology and their production requirements. Changing the aspects of the output affects the pricing of the product.
One of the challenges in implementing 3D printing is that the supply chain doesn’t have a fit for 3D printing. Later the tech gets compromised and is used for prototyping. The best way for manufacturers to use AM is to apply it to the production of new products rather than placing it in the existing manufacturing process. It is easier to persuade the upper management that the process will not hit any barriers. Replacing the entire production unit is not feasible for any company.
The generative design uses software to take advantage of 3D printing. This process reduces the weight of the product without compromising its integrity. However, it is not trending in the advanced markets. Companies are not using generative design because they don’t understand the tech entirely as of yet. Experts believe that 3D printing is ideal for prototyping and customizing the manufacturing process. In prototyping, this tech works because repeatability is not a matter of concern. 3D printing is best suited for prototyping, and even if the end product is excellent, it doesn’t translate to production opportunities. If a prototype is perfect, a company cannot turn them into thousands of products.
A possible solution to the problem is distributed manufacturing. It is a network of manufacturers where they offer 3D printing facilities at competitive prices. It is a manufacturing-as-a-service model and it is financially beneficial for a company as it removes the capital overheads. It facilitates better and cheaper products for faster deliveries. Enterprise software providers are rummaging for solutions around distributed manufacturing and their integration with core ERPs.