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Building a total cost framework for 3D printed parts

Whether you call it 3D printing or additive manufacturing, this advanced supply chain technology has already proven itself in a range of applications. But being able to 3D print a part is only half the answer. Development of a total cost framework promises to open the technology to a range of manufacturing scenarios, especially for spare parts.

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This is an excerpt of the original article. It was written for the November 2021 edition of Supply Chain Management Review. The full article is available to current subscribers.

November 2021

This is the last regular issue of Supply Chain Management Review for 2021. Normally this time of year, I look forward to what’s in front of us. That’s turned out to be a fool’s errand over the last year and a half. So, instead, I looked back to see what I wrote this time last year. My column was titled “COVID hasn’t stopped supply chain progress.”
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Despite more than 25 years of success, 3D printing/additive manufacturing (AM) finds itself in a peculiar spot.

Thanks to the efforts of countless researchers and engineers, the core AM technologies have matured into competent and dependable manufacturing processes. And it’s happened in industries as diverse as automotive, aerospace and medical implants, to name three.

In terms of engineering performance, there is an AM technology for nearly every need.

For many companies, AM is the go-to technology for producing functional prototypes and manufacturing aids. For these limited-quantity items, AM is a natural fit, far more economical than CNC machining or injection molding. At-scale production, however, is still a ways off for all but the most advanced and dedicated manufacturers.

That brings us to AM’s peculiar spot. On the one hand, the technology has already answered the question: “can I print it?” with a resounding “yes.” However, we aren’t quite at the point where the same enthusiastic answer works for the question: “Should I print it?”

A steppingstone to at-scale production may be spare parts. The on-demand nature of AM seems to be especially well suited to low-volume or unpredictable spare part production requests. Typically, 3D printing is well positioned to eliminate exorbitant retooling costs and seamlessly embraces the next generation of digital warehousing.

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Sorry, but your login has failed. Please recheck your login information and resubmit. If your subscription has expired, renew here.

From the November 2021 edition of Supply Chain Management Review.

November 2021

This is the last regular issue of Supply Chain Management Review for 2021. Normally this time of year, I look forward to what’s in front of us. That’s turned out to be a fool’s errand over the last year and a…
Browse this issue archive.
Access your online digital edition.
Download a PDF file of the November 2021 issue.

Despite more than 25 years of success, 3D printing/additive manufacturing (AM) finds itself in a peculiar spot.

Thanks to the efforts of countless researchers and engineers, the core AM technologies have matured into competent and dependable manufacturing processes. And it’s happened in industries as diverse as automotive, aerospace and medical implants, to name three.

In terms of engineering performance, there is an AM technology for nearly every need.

For many companies, AM is the go-to technology for producing functional prototypes and manufacturing aids. For these limited-quantity items, AM is a natural fit, far more economical than CNC machining or injection molding. At-scale production, however, is still a ways off for all but the most advanced and dedicated manufacturers.

That brings us to AM’s peculiar spot. On the one hand, the technology has already answered the question: “can I print it?” with a resounding “yes.” However, we aren’t quite at the point where the same enthusiastic answer works for the question: “Should I print it?”

A steppingstone to at-scale production may be spare parts. The on-demand nature of AM seems to be especially well suited to low-volume or unpredictable spare part production requests. Typically, 3D printing is well positioned to eliminate exorbitant retooling costs and seamlessly embraces the next generation of digital warehousing.

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MR

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