The SolidExperts Blog

5 Supply Chain Makeovers Powered by 3D Printing

Pull up any major news outlet and you’ll surely see it: supply chain disruptions are still ongoing on a global scale. For manufacturers all over the world, supply chain issues present a major threat to productivity and their ability to meet critical business deadlines. These ever-persistent supply chain issues continue to antagonize businesses of all types and sizes, manifesting as anything from a tequila drought at your local bar to medical supply shortages, to companies like Apple leaking billions at the hands of chip shortages. The expert prognosis is that external supply chain issues are likely here to stick around for the foreseeable future.

However, by bringing in a fast and reliable professional 3D printing platform, manufacturing businesses can bypass many of these risks — while also making their supply chains tighter and more efficient than before, with full control.

By effectively bypassing certain steps of traditional supply chain logistics — such as the common need to receive shipments to obtain parts — 3D printing trims off the associated risk for supply chain disruptions. For parts that must be machined, using an AM system for rapid prototyping will help engineers ensure that when the machined part is finally received months later, it will work as expected.

As additive manufacturing continues to move forward and expand in capabilities, 3D printing is able to solve an increasing number of major supply chain issues.

Worried about the aluminum shortage jacking up the prices? No problem — today’s professional 3D printers can make composites stronger than aluminum, in anywhere from just hours to days. Due to distributed manufacturing powered by cloud-based manufacturing networks and 3D printer connectivity to Industry 4.0 technologies, print jobs can be initiated by an operator from halfway across the globe and have it appear at the exact point of need.

The strength and material properties of today’s continuous fiber-reinforced (CFR) composite parts make it a faster, cheaper, and easier replacement for almost any part — even parts that must meet the demanding needs of the most specialized applications. These high-performance composites can replace many parts that were previously made from machined metals.

For parts that must be made from metal, metal fused filament fabrication (FFF) technology makes metal 3D printing more accessible, safer, and more simple for everyday use compared to other metal 3D printers — which are more expensive, have handling difficulties and safety risks associated with use of loose powder, and require highly trained operators.

Click here to learn how these 5 companies are using 3D printing to solve supply chain issues while reinventing their supply chains to be more efficient and less disruptable than ever.

1. Vestas – A global wind energy leader, based in Denmark, that designs, manufactures, installs, and services wind turbines across the globe.

2. U.S. Army – Located in San Bernardino, CA, the U.S Army’s Fort Irwin National Training Center provides realistic joint and combined arms training to develop the U.S. Army’s soldiers and leaders for the battlefield.

3. Automation Alley (Project DIAMOnD) – A non-profit Industry 4.0 knowledge center based in Troy, Michigan whose mission is to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution: helping local small to mid-sized manufacturers in Michigan scale up their Industry 4.0 activity to innovate, increase resiliency, and improve agility.

4. Cabin Management Solutions – Based in Conroe, Texas, is an aerospace company that designs and installs cabin control and entertainment systems for luxury private and business jets.

5. Nieka Systems – A Canadian manufacturer of borate fusion sample prep equipment for customers in the mining and cement production industries.

To read the full article, click here.

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