How to get started with Additive Manufacturing in Your Supply Chain

By June 11, 2024 No Comments

You want (and need!) to make your supply chain more profitable and sustainable. Additive Manufacturing (AM) can play a huge role in achieving that – which you’ve probably heard before. But how do you make it practical? Where do you start? And what does it get you? Read this blog to find out!

The power of Additive Manufacturing

While we don’t want to come across as egocentric and talk about our Dimanex AM platform in this whole blog, we do want to address some things. We sometimes hear that the power of AM feels ‘far away’ from your actual day-to-day business, making it hard to pinpoint where to start in your supply chain.

Tackling this all starts with identifying and quantifying AM opportunities in your supply chain. And since you can easily do that with our platform, we will dive deeper into this subject by showing you how our Supply Chain Analytics can help you exactly do that!

Insights into supply chain effects

An important start of this journey is gaining insights into how AM can help you tackle challenges in your supply chain. For instance, you need to figure out which of the parts in your portfolio are 3D printable and what the quantified benefits of printing your parts are.

Our Analytics product helps you get those insights, based on which you can make factual business decisions, for instance regarding which parts you should actually 3D print. That way, you immediately realize the benefits these insights have provided you.

For example, printing your parts can be done in your own city or country, which will significantly reduce CO2 emissions, transportation costs, and lead time. Additionally, you can print the exact number of parts you need, reducing inventory volume & value and stock-keeping costs.

Connection to KPI’s and ESG

These are all important factors for sustainability and cost reduction. Our Supply Chain Analytics product creates these insights simply by uploading part data that you have readily available and presents you the results of the analysis in dashboards in a matter of minutes.

Besides getting the right insights, the analysis also provides you with several data points to use in your business reporting. All the information that you extract from our platform can be interesting for engineers, buyers, service, management, and your sustainability colleagues (data that you can use in ESG reporting) on a user KPI or business KPI level.

How to get started

The next step is to start printing these parts. However, we often find that companies get stuck here. Why? Because printing parts has an image of being too expensive or too big of a project to start. Which is both false! While you need overall insights into the benefits of AM in your supply chain for many reasons, you also need to know where to start – on part-level. This is where Design for AM (DfAM) can come in.

Design for Additive Manufacturing

You could start printing the right parts, like-for-like, without changing the design of a part. This can bring significant benefits in time and cost savings. But did you know that, in addition to that, you can consider redesigning parts? By doing so you can use less material in the production of the part, hence reducing the production cost. Our Design for AM feature is part of our Supply Chain Analytics and plays an important role in taking the next (or first) steps.

It analyzes your parts portfolio and shows which parts would benefit from (re)designing them for AM. This involves analyzing a part to see if it can be produced with a lighter, stronger, or more sustainable material like biodegradable PLA, making them more durable (read: less expensive over time) and more earth-friendly to produce.

The benefits of (re)design for AM

There are many options and benefits for (re)designing of parts. For example, consolidating assemblies into single parts: components that typically require assembly before use can be reengineered into a single, printable mono-part created layer-by-layer.

This can result in production cost reduction, less need for maintenance (resulting in less machine downtime), less waste material and faster time-to-market. The benefits of DfAM are endless. To read more about Design for AM, check out this blog.

The power of AM in your supply chain

Why is it important to know about both of these elements in your AM journey – getting the right insights and redesigning parts? Because they reinforce each other: it’s a happy and effective supply chain marriage. Together, they bring benefits in terms of cost reduction (e.g. production, transport, inventory, capital, mould, scrapping, maintenance) AND sustainability (e.g. less material usage, less unnecessary parts produced, less transport and CO2 emission and more).

And with our cloud-based services, you can easily and quickly do both: analysis and printing and (re)designing your parts. Easy and practical, you can start today (if it is up to us)!

Watch the recording of our AM webinar

Now that you know where benefits can be realized, you might want to get more technical about this. Regarding Design for AM (DfAM) there is an immediate opportunity for you to get into action! On the 20th of June we hosted a webinar with our partner Ansys about scaling up AM with DfAM.

This webinar was for everyone interested in scaling Additive Manufacturing and translating the technique to concrete business benefits like shortening time-to-market, increasing First Time Right, and significant production cost reduction for the entire lifetime of your parts. Read more and watch the recording of the webinar through this link!