How 3D Printing Will Soon Replace Legacy Manufacturing and Reduce the Impact of Tariffs?
Constant political upheavals are a common global occurrence. But in recent times, these political upheavals have severely impacted businesses, both in profits and in future confidence.
The USA is continuously increasing its tariffs on goods imported from China and the latter is returning the favor with even more tariffs being placed on American goods.
Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran continue to simmer on, threatening trade emanating from the Strait of Hormuz.
Britain has voted in favor of Brexit, which implies that it will have to re-write its trade agreements with partner countries because it will no longer serve under trade stipulations offered under the EU umbrella.
For businesses especially large organizations that operate on a truly global scale, this means increased disruptions and lower profits and there is nothing they can do about it because they have to comply with political decisions, no matter what the cost.
So is there anything that these businesses can look forward to as a ray of hope, a way out of the mess?
Yes, there seems to be a way but by using current technology through an entirely different application.
Additive manufacturing or more popularly known as 3D printing has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years.
From revolutionizing the healthcare industry with innovations like custom joints to finding purpose in the construction and design industry through allowing the manufacture of geometric patterns and designs that were previously considered impossible to achieve with traditional methods, 3D printing is set to be one of the biggest change quotients in our quest for industry 4.0.
But amongst all these radical production possibilities powered by 3D printing, there is one thing that everyone has really failed to notice. 3D printing can serve as a major replacement for legacy manufacturing and allow businesses to not get affected by political uncertainties through offering the means to stop importing physical products because now, just acquiring blueprints will be enough to pull of any task.
Previously, the most powerful driver that concentrated legacy manufacturing for products in different countries was the high barriers to entry.
Building a legacy manufacturing plant in one country was an extremely difficult undertaking since it not just cost a lot of capital but developing expertise to run the plant in an efficient manner was a difficult commodity to acquire.
Well, the parameters have changed significantly since you last took a look as inch by inch, the advancement in technologies like 3D printing is tearing down those barriers and allowing firms to neutralize the over-reliance on overseas legacy manufacturers that held them back.
3D printing allows the setup of small, specialized base centers that produce a single category of a product on demand. This way you don’t need to have budgets running into hundreds of millions of dollars to set up a legacy manufacturing plant that does the same job.
3D printing also opens up the door for increased customization due to being able to offer rapid prototyping services such as the company 3ERP from china, so you don’t have to design your facility to suit the product but get the product made in the mould that you deem the most appropriate.
This gives rise to a phenomenon known as a distributed manufacturing facility, that allows to you locally construct the supply chain of products that you need just by getting the right blueprints. This way, you won’t be too concerned about emerging tariffs or barriers to entry in certain countries because you can replicate anything they have on your shores.
A phenomenal impact of such a process could also lead to reduced product turnaround times and significantly lowered cost.
When 3D printers can print part you need, when you need it, there will be no need to build up inventory for fear of not being able to get the required part due to issues like shipping or custom clearance delays. Moreover, the manufacturing process led by 3D printing will require raw materials rather than finished goods, so the former can be imported in high quantities and the costs will still remain low.
And if producers still have apprehensions over how they will be able to congregate such a new supply chain model and integrate it into their global operations, SAP is already developing solutions to accommodate exactly these kinds of changes.
SAP Distributed Manufacturing and SAP Leonardo are some of the new developments that aim to tackle modern-day supply chain challenges in a seamless manner. For e.g. if you have your plastic prototype or metal prototype ready for your new pipe design to be sent across the world in your manufacturing plants, these SAP-based systems will assist in handling the whole process from inception to delivery.
These new SAP solutions focus on building native processes that are needed to run and scale additive manufacturing based modern-day supply chain operations, removing many issues you might have in applying this new technology on a bigger level than before.
Additive manufacturing is here to stay and its true purpose will only be realized in transforming the whole conventional manufacturing model on its head leading to lower turnaround time, reduced cost, product consistency and moreover, freedom from political upheavals and tariff changes that affect business and eat in profits.