3rd degree disruption of the Supply Chain
It may be the most eye-catching development in printing since Gutenberg invented the printing press 600 Years ago. A machine that can make copies of almost anything, but this time in 3D. It seems like science fiction but 3D printing is already in use. It is being used to make hearing aids, jewelry even parts of NASA aeroworks.
Now the technology is getting available to anyone suggesting that you can turn your garage into a small factory. Many Economists have tagged additive manufacturing as the third industrial revolution. 3D printing is making massive changes to logistics functions and manufacturing processes.
3D printing is part of a process known as Additive Manufacturing where objects are created by adding materials layer by layer. Additive manufacturing enables designers to create complex parts of machines, airplanes and cars at a fraction of the cost. Now smaller consumer friendly 3D-printers are bringing additive manufacturing to homes and businesses.
The first step of 3D-Printing is to create a blueprint of the object you want to print. It has a 3D scanner that can make a 3D digital copy (Design) of an object. Once you have a design, it’s time to send it to the printer. When the printer receives the data, it pulls the material through a tube, melts it, and deposits it to the plate where it instantly cools. The printer will add one layer after another to create the object.
Impact on Supply Chain
3D printing technology is making everything manufactured in lesser time than it would be if 3D Printing is not used. The Lead time is reduced substantially. The product can be manufactured in few days that would have taken a month otherwise. Shorter manufacturing lead time means the new designs will be available quickly to market, which means that customers’ needs can fulfill quickly.
3D Printing uses a material for manufacturing, the leftover material can be used in other projects which result in the efficient use of material. Now companies are going to implement Print on demand which will cut off the transportation costs and will shorten the length of the supply chain. Print on demand means companies do not need to store huge amount of finished products in warehouse. It has a huge impact on stock locations.
Various parts of cars, medical equipment or machinery can be printed in short time by downloading the design of the parts. It is not financially efficient to send products across the globe when the companies can manufacture the product anywhere. 3D printing will make supply chain more efficient, more local and globally connected.