Home' MHD Supply Chain Solutions : MHD Mar-Apl 2017 Contents a fortnight, depending on the material type
and post processing requirements. Sculpteo
then ships or air-freights the component to
the customer, offering lead-time flexibility.
Industrial-scale services provided by
companies such as Voxeljet in Europe, or
Stratasys in the US, offer product design
and manufacturing services catering to a
range of industries, including advanced
Outsourcing 3D printing is an effective
way to transfer the technological and
expertise of operation to a 3rd party. These
3rd party printers (3PP) are then responsible
for maintaining printing infrastructure, thus
avoiding the need for frequent hardware
upgrades driven by the rapid pace of
advancement in 3D printing.
decision will depend on the planned
scale of operations, the requirement
for customised processes development,
your cashflow requirements and the
coverage of the product segmentation
grid. If all products fall into one quadrant,
particularly if that quadrant is the ‘low-
standard’ quadrant, it might make more
sense to insource printing capabilities as
your overall process development, initial
investment, operating costs and learning
curve will be significantly lower than if
your target product range covers a variety
of 3D printer technologies or has ‘high-
precise’ requirements. See Figure 4.
Both insourcing and outsourcing bring
their own initial and ongoing challenges.
Insourcing requires engaging with experts to
determine the technical specifications of the
3D printer, purchase of equipment and hiring
or upskilling operators, as well as ongoing
costs of operation and process development.
Material properties and CAD designs will be
required across the product range, which
may include 3D scanning or manual creation.
Outsourcing shifts these burdens to the
3PP, but introduces other challenges in
maintaining a productive relationship with
the 3PP, especially in arrangements where
many different products or custom materials
are required. Though CAD designs are
Figure 3. The product segmentation grid.
“Outsourcing 3D printing is an effective way to
transfer the technological and expertise of operation
to a 3rd party.”
still required, your 3PP may be able to assist in their
creation. Once integrated with the supply chain, the 3PP
would operate like a conventional manufacturer, with its
own unique product lead times and costs.
The decision to invest in developing your own 3D
printing capability or outsource it to a 3PP requires
consideration of these factors.
Designing your strategy
Developing a successful 3D printing implementation
strategy depends upon a clear definition of the business
aims motivating the initiative to 3D-print. Once defined,
the strategy can be tailored to target the Business
Impact Points best aligned with the bottom-line driver.
Beginning the detailed solution design from this
perspective accelerates and guides decision-making.
The complex questions of structure, product range,
technology, insourcing versus outsourcing, and cost
can then be reduced to a manageable workload using
a segmented simplification of the inventory range.
Following this approach to developing your 3D printing
roadmap will provide a solid basis for the cost-benefit
analysis required to make the business case and move
forward with certainty.
Michael Dentry is a consultant with GRA based in
Melbourne. Michael has worked with a diverse range
of clients, across industries including FMCG, retail,
manufacturing and defence. Michael has developed
experience within innovation engagements dealing with
the adaptation of new technologies within the supply
chain. Prior to joining GRA in 2015, Michael operated
within the space of high-tech engineering. Michael
has specialised experience in the manufacture of
microscale technology and 3D-printing.
Charles Edwards is a consultant with GRA based
in Melbourne. Charles’ previous clients include the
Defence Force, MROs and ASX listed retail businesses
within Australia. He has experience in supply chain
strategic review, sales and operations planning,
inventory optimisation, 3D printing and demand and
replenishment planning. He is particularly interested
in business strategy, big data and the impacts of
disruptive technologies on the supply chain.
MHD SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS — MARCH / APRIL 2017
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