October 15 2019
Tech tips and tutorials
5 TIPS TO BUILD THE BEST PROCUREMENT SUPPLY CHAIN WITH ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING (INDUSTRIAL 3D PRINTING)
Additive manufacturing is a solution becoming increasingly integrated into the value chain of many companies. However, sometimes it can be difficult to grasp all the technicalities of this technology and understand how and when we should use it.
In addition, there is a wider disparity of 3D printing and additive manufacturing offers on the market increasing the risks of project failures mainly caused by:
Not selecting the right supplier
Discarding 3D printing because of disappointing experiences
Here is what you need to know if you are about to evaluate 3D printing for a specific project or to integrate it on a larger scale.
1- Make sense of additive manufacturing for your procurement supply chain
‘’The first thing 3D printing should make for your business? Sense.’’ (The Little Blue Book of 3D Printing, Blueprint). The best manufacturing solution is not necessarily the same for each different manufacturing project. Every manufacturing process has its own strengths, and every 3D printing technology also has its own strengths. It’s important to have a minimum of knowledge in the various manufacturing processes, so you can help your engineering team to make the best choice. 3D printing must make sense for you, your company, your processes, your situation… There must be benefits.
Since 2010, Solaxis has developed expertise in FMD (fused deposition modelling) technology with a unique approach focused on customer benefit. Our unparalleled expertise allows us to tell you for which project our technology is the best solution, or why it is not, and to explain why.
2- Streamline your supply chain with additive manufacturing (3D printing)
Reduce the length of supply chains:
As you can produce parts on request with 3D printing and as no tooling is required, you reduce lead times and costs. If you consolidate several parts into one, you also reduce the number of suppliers.
Performs optimal inventory management:
3D printing allows you to convert traditional inventory to digital inventory for the parts that can be printed on-demand. This enables you to reduce the amount of capital tied up in slow-moving parts and to free up the working capital that is sitting in inventory.
Produce parts on requests:
Thanks to the ease of the manufacturing process, the parts can be created according to your needs, in terms of shape, complexity and dimensional volume.
Benefit from a customization approach:
With additive manufacturing, you can personalize the final product as much as you need. Many iterations are possible, and can be done very quickly and easily. Indeed, you can produce batches of unique parts on request, allowing operations to be closer to customers.
3- Make sure your 3D printing projects are successful
Additive manufacturing is not different from any other manufacturing process. The same rules and requirements of supply chain management apply. It is important for procurement specialists to implicate company engineers and technical staff to engage directly with additive manufacturing suppliers. This will allow the procurement specialists to set the right expectations and have a successful project.
Here are some key points to consider:
Applications - Give as much detail as possible about the requirements
Part geometry and tolerances
Build orientation of the part*
Surface finish (influenced by part orientation)*
Materials properties (different from other processes)*
Process control information
(*Specific for additive manufacturing)
A word of caution: It’s easy for engineering department to go online to order parts and end up being disappointed. Make sure to learn the difference between ‘’entry level 3D printing small garage shop’’ and ‘’value added advanced additive manufacturing production specialist”.
4- Reinforce lifecycle sustainability for procurement with additive manufacturing
Reduce material waste across the supplier chain:
Less waste is produced with geometrically optimized parts and consolidated assemblies.
Alternate solution for end of life product management:
No storage of parts or tooling is required. Older products are printed on demand.
Increase product efficiency:
3D printing technology provides great design freedom, providing parts optimized according to use.
Reduce lifecycle impact of parts:
"3D printing can have a positive environmental impact, not only during the manufacturing process but also for the whole life of the part. By enabling manufacture of lightweight designs, 3D printing can reduce fuel consumption and emissions." (The Little Blue Book of 3D Printing, Blueprint)
5- Make sure your organization understands additive manufacturing
In conclusion, additive manufacturing can really support you in many ways. To explore more deeply the above points and to better understand how you can benefit from this technology, feel free to contact us.