As 3D Printing matures it is impacting a larger area within manufacturing companies. Supply chain management is a key part of any organization that makes physical parts, and 3D Printing has a big, and sometimes ignored, impact there. The Institute for Supply Chain Management made the topic their cover article for the March issue of their magazine: Inside Supply Management. The article does a good job of pointing out the realities of 3D Printing in a real manufacturing environment.
The article featured input from PADT and other experts in the area. Even if you are not directly involved in the supply chain side of things, it is worth a read to understand how the technology impacts things. The section on building a business case for 3D Printing is especially useful.
There is a nice sidebar that covered some of the lessons we have learned here at PADT:
- Don't Cheap Out – get a commercial quality 3D Printer that doesn't cut corners
- It's not for everyone – make sure that 3D Printing has a real benefit for your company
- Understand quality needs – quality is different with 3D Printed parts, know this and work with it
- Set traceability standards – you need to know where your material came from and where the parts you make end up