Providing the fastest lead time of any manufacturing process, 3D printing excels at one of the most valued components of a supply chain, speed. Producing parts of low volume orders in one to two days and multi-thousand unit orders in a week or two, 3D printing should be considered a key problem solver within supply structures. Complementing the existing manufacturing capabilities, the strategic implementation of additive manufacturing can provide additional adaptive efficiency to an operation.
Additive manufacturing provides for production purposes, the ability to customize to a degree that no other method allows. Choosing through material, color, infill and size, 3D printing gives complete flexibility. Applying related variations within an order or changing manufacturing guidelines mid-production can be done without altering the price or lead time.
Similarly for part changes, streamlining production using 3D printing grants the capability to easily edit part production with no cost or timeline alteration. Relying solely on CAD files for operating, additive manufacturing adjusts responsively and promptly, offering an option that is by nature customizable.
Low volume production
Requiring no base operating fee, additive manufacturing is one of the cheapest options in regards to low volume manufacturing. Whether it is for metal and especially for plastic manufacturing, 3D printing allows production to scale perfectly to the demand. Tailored to the need, this manufacturing process allows flexibility to a price otherwise unachievable.
Parts containing complex geometries are usually expensive, design limiting and time consuming to produce with usual means of production. Additive manufacturing on the other hand has almost no restrictions when it comes to traditionally troublesome shapes. The layer by layer manufacturing process allows the designing freedom that was once unachievable. From internal channels to finely detailed parts, model optimisation can be elevated to a whole new level.
Producing with 3D printing technology has a subtle advantage that enables swift and undisturbed manufacturing. Part replicability may be underrated but, the capability to efficiently produce items to which no prior blueprint is available is an important part of uninterrupted workflow. With nothing more than a CAD file, created either by 3D scanography or from scratch, manufacturing parts that are discontinued, problematic or restricted can turn out to be a simple task.
Bringing manufacturing to even greater potential, 3D printing allows the optimisation of design to go way beyond what was previously possible. Intricate internal architectures are now easily achievable with minimal to no change in the process or its timeline. And so, complicated parts that required the assembly of multiple pieces can now be conceived in a single solid jointless part, saving on assembly, time and weight. This practice can also deliver enhance mechanical properties and allow additional feature optimisation of the part.
Originating from its core technical principle, 3D printing can modulate the infill of the parts it prints. Constituting one of the most unique abilities in the manufacturing world, this technique enables the designer to reduce the weight of the final product. Great for weight sensitive needs such as in aerospace, infill modulation can also be of use to mitigate the thermodynamic conduction of metal parts. Whether it is used to isolate or to control the material expansion, this capability is unique to additive manufacturing.
Design optimisation can also be the solution to attain weight targets. Trimming unnecessary corners, cumbersome joints, excessive struts or surplus material from what may seem like optimum part design from a traditional manufacturing standpoint can be done with 3D printing. The ability to get the wanted mechanical properties with the minimum material required is the final step in production optimisation.
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