High volume compared to small batches
For several decades, experts have been pointing to 3D printing as a solution to the problems of our suppliers. 3D printing has been used by in the automotive and aerospace industries, to the mass production of toys in our homes. But this is all hype and not reality. Modern, conventional manufacturing is extremely good at producing large quantities of standardized and cost-effective parts. But it quickly reaches its limits when responsive solutions are required. In wartime, responsiveness is the difference between life and death.
For example, Micro-X, an Australian manufacturer of x-ray machines, is using 3D printing to speed up production of its portable, lightweight x-ray machines to meet increased orders from hospitals with coronavirus patients. Because Micro-X can rely on its 3D printers to produce lightweight parts, it can produce the required components much faster than traditional methods and scale in quantity to meet requirements.
3D printing is more cost-effective than traditional small-batch manufacturing. It eliminates the distance between design and production, so manufacturers don’t have to rely on outside suppliers who may take weeks to deliver two or three custom parts. Instead, they can print them in hours.
Above all, availability and flexibility, especially in the event of supply bottlenecks, far outweigh the cost factor when demand is unexpectedly high and supply is low.
We need to be agile and flexible to win this war, and 3D printing is the most flexible tool we have – the digital forge that we can bring to the front of the current battle. Ideas can be turned into reality quickly. It gives organizations the ability to think creatively and respond quickly. When integrated into innovation and problem-solving cultures, it can unlock unlimited opportunities for development teams and create cost and time savings for any organization. And when we face a global crisis, we can quickly test prototypes and create the tool a hospital needs – immediately.
Readiness means more than being ready for what you can see coming. It means having the flexibility and resources needed to meet any contingencies that may arise next.