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    3D Printing Is All Set To Disrupt Manufacturing

    3D Printing Is All Set To Disrupt Manufacturing.

    The technology of 3D printing is slowly coming to age and beginning to disrupt the manufacturing process, right from design and development till production. 

    From printing jet engine parts to the soccer cleats, this technology is presently hailed as a revolution in how more products will be developed, produced as well as sold.

    The manufacturers, right from the small shops to the multinational companies are crossing the threshold from tinkering with the prototypes to producing the final products. Three dimensional printing is capacitated to shrink the supply chains, save product development times as well as increase customization offerings. Several companies are adopting it in some way or the other, right from experimenting with this technology to making the final product.

    Though 3D printing production is now in infancy, it is inevitable. If you follow things closely, you will find several indications of the fact that the shift is already underway. Since the last few years, 3D printing has been the playground of maker community though commercial applications are limited to prototyping. Now, industrial 3D printing is all set to go mainstream and this is expected to revolutionize the economy.

    Here are a few ways in which 3D printing production is in use now.

    True Rapid Prototyping
    Popularly referred to as rapid prototyping, this is not rapid, with the service providers taking about a week to deliver a single piece. Recent breakthroughs in automation, combined with the entry of global distribution companies changed everything, at times leading to same day production as well as shipping. Such changes are collapsing the design cycles dramatically. Thus, the products that needed a month to go through the design changes in the prototyping phase now takes around a week. Products are getting to the market quickly and the companies saving sufficient time and money.

    Mass Customization
    Even a few years ago, if a knee replacement was necessary, the nurse used to bring a box to the operating room and a doctor chose one among four or five possible designs that he or she felt will resemble the knees. Today, actual knees are scanned and a replica printed prior to the surgery.
    This is a mass customization example where huge quantities of an item are produced and each one of them customized. Invisalign has already built a huge business producing 3D printed teeth alignment devices. This helps to offer bespoke devices to each and every customer. With customization on offer at premium rates, most companies are exploring ways to introduce product customization to serve the customers better and increase profits.

    Virtual Inventory
    The manufacturing companies that are making a new product usually create a supply of spare parts too, producing large quantities that can meet the demand for years. Holding the inventory is quite costly. Costs here include capital for producing the inventory, shrinkage where the parts are lost or stolen, warehousing, insurance, tracking as well as distribution.
    So, how can you define company warehousing? Why can’t they be printed on the demand?
    With the aid of 3D printing production, you can make whatever you need regardless of the time and place. Virtual inventory aids in improving the efficiency of businesses. Inventories throughout the world will shrink dramatically as soon as the virtual inventory goes mainstream.

    Long Tail of Parts
    Printing products using the 3D technology not just disrupts the early stages of production where a years’ worth inventory is created; it fundamentally changes the way companies perceive the end of product life. Now, a ten year old refrigerator with broken parts is quite likely to be scrapped. After years of service, the parts produced for it are not even available. Considering the product dead, the manufacturers will not service it either.

    But with the aid of 3D production, you can now hold on to digital design parts and print any part as long as you need them. The older but the useful products are never a waste. Their lifespan also need not be determined on the basis of scale production limitations. This alters the very way the engineers and the designers are thinking and planning for products existence well into future.

    Today, we find ourselves at the key inflection point inhistory. The options for growth and innovations are endless. Currently, 3D printing production occupies the same status as an email used to two decades ago. Soon to prove a utility of new technology, today, we just get a glimpse of the incredible.
    About the Author:
    Kabir Raja is a hardware engineer by profession. But that does not prevent him from showing interest in a variety of fields. He is also a web enthusiast and loves to blog on topics ranging from fashion to wedding and from security to environmental issues.

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