New World of Additive Manufacturing: Four Competitive Advantages
Remember when flip phones were the latest in cellular technology? When TV’s were shaped like boxes? When you went to Blockbuster to rent videos? Everybody knows that technology is continually evolving. So fast that if you look away, you might miss it. If you turned your back on, say, additive manufacturing (AM, also known as 3D printing), you could be forgiven for having any number of outdated misconceptions about this technology even five years ago.
Many people continue to associate 3D printing strictly with prototyping. But innovative startups and established industry titans alike aren’t just using this technology to create prototypes but to disrupt and revolutionize the manufacturing industry.
At Pivot International, we are a global product development company with extensive investment in the latest manufacturing technologies, including additive manufacturing, twinned SMT, blockchain, AI, and more. With advanced experience that spans over fourteen industries and 320,000 square feet of manufacturing capability across three continents, we help companies worldwide bring successful products to market.
While AM isn’t right for every product, it offers multiple advantages when the fit is right. Let’s take a more in-depth look at how AM is evolving and the competitive advantages it can offer.
The Evolution of Additive Manufacturing
AM continues to drive transformation across multiple industries and has helped shape new markets and create new benchmarks for production efficiencies. AM has evolved so rapidly that it can seem like the stuff of science fiction as companies deploy it to print combustion chambers, human skin samples, eco-friendly villages, and retail space interiors. But each of these feats has already been achieved by far-sighted companies ranging from billion-dollar conglomerates to humble nonprofits.
Disruptive Technology With Four Distinct Competitive Advantages
In a Goldman Sachs report titled The Search for Creative Destruction detailing disruptive innovations posing an “adapt or die” proposition, 3D printing was named among only eight immanent threats.
As a disruptive technology, 3D printing constitutes a formidable competitive advantage by outperforming traditional manufacturing in four distinct ways:
1. It delivers the capability of exponentially agile and accelerated rapid prototyping by dispensing with the slow, expensive process of specialized tooling. But make no mistake, AM is not limited to prototyping! AM is now just as likely to be used for production as for prototyping.
2. It allows for unprecedented precision at almost any scale, allowing for the creation of complex designs precluded by traditional techniques. And while AM was once a slow process, it now lags only seconds behind conventional manufacturing methods. Moreover, AM can expedite so many aspects of the larger product development process that, taken as a whole, it can more than make up for these minor delays.
3. It is incredibly resource-efficient and, in many cases, qualifies as an eco-friendly “zero-waste” technology. To create a two-pound object, traditional manufacturing may require five pounds of raw material while AM requires two. AM can also compete with or exceed traditional manufacturing in the areas of recyclability and energy expenditure. And because AM’s on-demand applications mean less need for warehousing and transportation, this translates to reduced emissions.
4. It overcomes the glaring inefficiencies and insecurities of the traditional supply chain. (High volume assembly workers, extended lead times, prohibitive transport costs, complex distribution networks, a dependency on economies of scale, and intrinsic vulnerability to disruption.) It does this by making local what was once necessarily global. In other words, AM’s role in flexible, on-demand production can play a key role in protecting against disruption and, in the process, can reduce inventory management costs and a host of other expenses.
Are you looking for a trusted partner to help you turn your product vision into a successful reality? For nearly a half-century, Pivot has helped hundreds of companies worldwide bring winning innovations to market. If you’d like to explore how we can support your product development goals to help you grow your business, contact us today for a no-obligation consultation.