Sunday, October 6, 2013

3D Printers on Supply Chain

From the reading on nano-based RFID tags, it reveals how printing RFID tags on paper will drastically impact the supply chain. Along the same lines, 3-D printers are becoming more and more popular as technology and materials are improving. Even in its current use, the impact on the supply chain is vast.

In the current times, while the impact is only modest, 3D printing has the potential to change the supply chain as we know it. We know the modern supply chain to include many operations including, mass production of parts, transportation of goods, and assembly of the product. With technology improving, the application of 3D printers will soon allow products to be created near the point of purchase, allowing for easier production, less workforce, etc. As more product printing becomes readily available, especially with machinery that can handle the product, more reliance will occur on 3D printers.

Technology has an immense impact on 3D printers as improved technology will allow for more products to be created with less lead/production time and with less variability. This will allow for more products to be created internally rather than outsourcing for parts. With the use of 3D printers, a big impact will be felt by the inventory as less inventory will be needed, minimizing costs. When a product needs to be produced, the file can be recalled from the computer and "printed", meaning essentially the only inventory necessary are the different materials that the 3D printers need to print.

Because the production time will decrease drastically, more time will be allowed for design, allowing for more innovative designs to be created. Also with the use of 3D printers, the quality of a product will be consistent along with having minimal variability.

Now there are a couple of questions that can be asked. With such implications, what will be the effect on the life of a product? What are the limitations that cannot be overcome with better technology for 3D applications? And lastly, when/what innovative product will make 3D printing obsolete by including the features for 3D printing and more?


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