Worldwide pandemic has severely multiplied the possibilities of problems in the supply chain, especially in the manufacturing and logistics sectors. 3D printing can be an opportunity in all those problems. The spread of coronavirus has disrupted several plants, broken supply chains, and prevented the production of many industrial factories. With changing technological use to maintain functionality in the industry, the companies have realized that 3D printing can be an opportunity in a crisis. Incorporating 3D printing software and 3D printing applications in the supply chain for manufacturing will help develop a smooth workflow. 3D printing designs are comfortable with most printers and take less time compared to other manufacturing processes.
The Reasons 3D Printing Can Be An Opportunity In A Crisis
3D printing for mass manufacturing
One of the significant advantages of 3D printing in the manufacturing industry is the ability of volume manufacturing. As hospitals and businesses in the world struggle with a disrupted supply chain, 3D printing has become an essential resource for producing emergency parts.
The technology has several uses in producing several medical components like ventilator valves, safety goggles, and protective shields in the hospital environment. For industrial purposes, 3D printing designs of spare parts and molds have become a regular practice. A fascinating thing about the 3D printing application in these sectors is not only the effort put into rethinking technical help but also the volume of parts and instrument production through 3D printing.
Many hospitals use in-house 3D printers to produce over 150000 covid-19 test swabs every day – that are used to collect samples for covid-19 testing. This example proves that 3D printing is suitable for low-volume manufacturing and for large scale product manufacturing in a short time. This is a classic example of how 3D printing technology will soon become a manufacturing solution. It will continue to prove its usability with more applications as industries move forward.
Maintaining Production Continuity
The failure of parts in production can cause downtime in the supply chain and delivery. These situations lead to financial losses for companies that grow with time while waiting for replacements. Finding a replacement can take weeks, and finding a new local supplier is an even more significant challenge.
Using 3D printing in your own company can help you reduce downtime due to a lack of missing parts. A 3D printing possibility in your company is the fastest alternative access to spare parts. It is required for the operations of a device or the whole supply chain of manufacturing.
Company producing Components
3D printing technologies enable the manufacturing of any element irrespective of its shape, size, or structure. This functionality comes in handy for significant mechanism production like engines and various other systems. 3D printing provides the opportunity to prepare for the most non-standard and rarely available custom-made elements in a relatively short period. Printing application for a company negates their reliance on external suppliers, which is a considerable advantage in crisis times.
3D printing allows the production of spare parts anytime there is a requirement with inexpensive molds. Moreover, producing components and other elements in the company reduced transportation costs for the business.
Manufacturing of Resistant Parts
3D printed parts can easily replace many components used in complex machinery. Using high-performance 3D printing materials like PEEK, ULTEM or PC helps you achieve elements suitable for mechanical use in a machine. Moreover, parts made with these materials can be used as replacements for metallic components in a machine.
If the supplier fails to supply the parts in time, companies can produce their own parts and complete the production. This functionality ensures production without compromising quality and maintaining their production. Contrary to popular belief, 3D printing materials have a wide range and can be functional for almost everything in a business.
Critical Element production in an Emergency
Imagine missing a single part to complete a full product. With the uncertainty of delivering the required part, the production comes to a stop, and the delivery gets delayed. While you can always look for an alternative supplier for the element, the success rate is not a guarantee from a new supplier. Moreover, getting anew supplier can be extremely difficult during a pandemic.
Having a 3D printer can quickly solve the problem and produce the required element to complete the product manufacturing in time. 3D printing designs are comfortable, and you do not have to depend on secondary suppliers for the components.
Switching to AM production is no Panacea
While 3D printing applications are numerous, it is also essential to understand that 3D printing will not make other manufacturing techniques obsolete.
If we take medical instruments and equipment under consideration, it is impossible to use the 3D printing tech to manufacture equipment. It is because most medical equipment uses traditional manufacturing techniques with the expertise to build. 3D printing cannot combine these things to create the perfect instrument.
Moreover, 3D printing specific medical equipment of objects of requirement raises questions about biocompatibility and sterilization. The process of sterilization involves high temperatures and pressure that not all 3d printed materials can withstand.
3D printed materials for medical purposes need to be developed in a medical environment to be absolutely worthwhile. This makes collaborating with medical professionals an essential aspect of 3D printing medical equipment.
With traditional supply chains under pause, 3D printing applications are a temporary solution for procuring some necessary parts. This means that 3D printing will not take over traditional manufacturing technologies used in the industry.
While traditional processes are best for large volume manufactures, 3D printing has taken a step towards the industry. It assists your business with high flexibility and on-demand manufacturing.
Even with the end of the pandemic, there can be several crises that you need to look out for. The advantages of 3D printing are limitless, so investing in a 3D printer is an excellent idea if your business relies mainly on product manufacturing. Moreover, if your supplier fails, a 3D printer is your best companion to complete all productions without delays.