Dis­rup­tive in­flu­ence of dig­i­tal man­u­fac­tur­ing

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - 3D TECHNOLOGY - By Steve Hart

A re­port pre­pared by global busi­ness so­lu­tions firm CSC is pre­dict­ing a “par­a­digm shift” in man­u­fac­tur­ing thanks to smarter, faster, cheaper 3D print­ers.

The re­port’s au­thors, Vivek Srinivasan and Jar­rod Bas­san, say emerg­ing trends in­di­cate that the time to get prod­ucts to mar­ket is al­ready shrink­ing as a di­rect re­sult of the tech­nol­ogy. This is not only due to the print­ers, but also due to the elim­i­na­tion of tool­ing and fac­tory set-up times for new prod­ucts. Firms that come to rely on this new gen­er­a­tion of print­ers will not need moulds, or spe­cial tools to be de­signed and made.

“Be­ing ag­ile will no longer be a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage but a ba­sic ne­ces­sity to stay in busi­ness,” say the au­thors.

“The bar­ri­ers to man­u­fac­tur­ing will be low­ered, bring­ing new com­peti­tors with new ideas. At the same time, prod­ucts in­cor­po­rat­ing 3D-printed com­po­nents will ex­hibit su­pe­rior fea­tures such as be­ing smaller, lighter, stronger, less me­chan­i­cally com­plex and eas­ier to main­tain. These prod­ucts will hold dis­tinct com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage.”

The re­port also says the de­sign of prod­ucts will no longer be in the labs and of­fices of com­pa­nies – but rather sit with com­mu­ni­ties of end users de­vel­op­ing open source de­signs.

One can draw com­par­isons with the news me­dia land­scape and con­sider how that has changed with blog­gers and users of so­cial me­dia sites who have dis­rupted the tra­di­tional news­pa­per busi­ness.

“Com­mu­ni­ties of end users will in­creas­ingly be re­spon­si­ble for prod­uct de­signs, which will be avail­able to any­one with the nec­es­sary skills and tools who want to de­sign and then man­u­fac­ture them,” claims the re­port.

“These open-de­sign prod­ucts will be su­pe­rior to pro­pri­etary prod­ucts. Man­u­fac­tur­ers will com­pete on how well they im­ple­ment the de­signs and their build qual­ity, which will be mer­ci­lessly rated by end users on the in­ter­net.”

The au­thors also pre­dict that cus­tomiza­tion will be the new nor­mal as com­pa­nies use 3D print­ing and other rapid tech­niques to of­fer cus­tomiza­tion at no additional cost.

“Con­sumers will come to ex­pect cus­tomiza­tion as the norm,” they say. “The per-unit man­u­fac­tur­ing costs of small pro­duc­tion runs – even batches of one – will ap­proach those of long runs as tech­nol­ogy bar­ri­ers fall.

“The price ad­van­tage as­so­ci­ated with mass pro­duc­tion in low-cost re­gions will be chal­lenged by 3D print­ers pro­vid­ing just-in-time man­u­fac­tur­ing near the point of sale or point of as­sem­bly.

“Sup­ply chains will be re-op­ti­mized to fac­tor in the ad­van­tages of just-in-time, par­tic­u­larly for low-vol­ume or highly spe­cial­ized com­po­nents. Con­versely, de­sign­ers will be able to min­i­mize costs by us­ing low-cost, high-vol­ume com­po­nents wher­ever pos­si­ble.”

The re­port says this new world of man­u­fac­tur­ing will lead to tra­di­tional man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies evolv­ing or dy­ing.

Ward­ley says the 3D print­ing dis­rup­tion “will al­most cer­tainly be led by new en­trants whose prac­tices will be rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent from those of ex­ist­ing play­ers”.

The CSC re­port, 3D Print­ing and the Fu­ture of Man­u­fac­tur­ing, says that in pre­par­ing for this change, tra­di­tional man­u­fac­tur­ers must keep abreast of 3D print­ing prac­tices and be aware of in­ter­nal bar­ri­ers that could pre­vent them from tak­ing ad­van­tage of the change.

“As more or­ga­ni­za­tions be­come man­u­fac­tur­ers, the lines be­tween man­u­fac­turer and cus­tomer will blur,” say the au­thors.

On the web: www.csc.com/3d

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