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Industry Executives Bring AM and 3D Printing Intelligence to TCT 2015

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The TCT 2015 Show + Personalize Conference team has announced the Executive Keynote programme for the 20th edition of the industry-leading 3D technologies event.

The TCT 2015 Executive Keynotes

A variety of leading 3D companies will delegate their executives to join the TCT 2015 keynote program. Among them are Al Siblani, CEO of EnvisionTEC, Scott Schiller, the Worldwide Director 3D Printing at Hewlett-Packard, Max Lobovsky, CEO of Formlabs, Conor MacCormack, CEO of Mcor Technologies, Todd Grimm, President at T. A. Grimm Associates and Andy Middleton, President for the EMEA region at Stratasys.

Fresh Perspectives to the Conference Stages

TCT strive to bring fresh perspectives to the TCT conference stages year-on-year — something that’s made easier by the wealth of talented speakers available and the speed that this fascinating industry is developing. The selected executive keynotes have decades of experience with 3D printing technologies between them but are all poised to have their biggest impacts in the years to come. Long-standing companies like EnvisionTEC, Stratasys and Mcor will share the stage with relative newcomers Formlabs and debutants HP — with Todd Grimm providing the energetic education that he has become famed for.

TCT 2015: Technologies that Matter

The strength of this year’s conference programme perfectly complements the exhibition, which is demonstrably the most comprehensive show floor dedicated to 3D technologies anywhere in the world. From desktop to workshop to production floor, TCT Show 2015 + Personalize is the only place to see all of the technologies that matter.

Benchmark on Clear 3D Print Materials

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Benchmark Transparent and Optical 3D Printing Resins

Following the earlier launch of a clear 3D print materials comparison, Dutch Luximprint, the global service provider in 3D printing of optics and optically clear components, launched a next in-depth benchmark on transparent 3D printing materials to help designers and engineers understand the possibilities with clear plastics for various applications.

3D Printing of Optical Quality Parts

Meanwhile, there is a variety of 3D printing technologies available on the market that can print transparent parts. However, using them to create parts with optical functionality, such as lenses and light guides, seems to be a very limited option.

Clear 3D print materials comparison by Luxexcel including a variet of available 3D printing technologies.
Clear 3D print materials comparison including a variety of available 3D printing technologies.

Clear 3D Print Materials Benchmark

Back in 2015, a research conducted on 3D printed clear parts using different 3D printing technologies was published. Most of these technologies can be used to create transparent parts, it is clear however that functional optical parts as used in illumination and increasingly imaging applications, can only be realized today by Additive Optics Manufacturing technology. Using this ‘droplets-on-demand’ build process, smooth surfaces can be achieved straight from the printer with no need for post-processing, such as polishing or grinding.

3DPrinting.Lighting_Luxexcel clear 3D print materials benchmark_5_Total Light TransmissionMaterial Properties and Functions

For all the parts, the optical properties of the materials samples were measured, as well as the total and diffusive light transmission. When creating parts with optical functionality, a maximum efficiency and minimum haze values are important.

3DPrinting.Lighting_Luxexcel clear 3D print materials benchmark_5_Diffusive Light TransmissionMaterial Yellowing by UV-curing

The yellowness index of the different clear 3D print materials, as caused by the UV-curing the materials during the printing process to bring it from a liquid into a solid state is another interesting topic to have a look at. Generally, plastic materials age faster when exposed to an extraordinary amount of UV-light. Influences on the optical behavior are limited, it may, however, influence the color temperature of the emitted light rays.

Comparison of the total and diffusive light transmission for each of the evaluated materials.Whitepaper ‘Clear 3D Print Materials’

A whitepaper containing the full benchmark, backgrounds and further explanations is available on request, please contact the companies’ sales engineers to learn about the availability.

Pictures in this post are courtesy of Luxexcel / Luximprint.

Microsoft Unleash 3MF File Format for 3D Printing

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As founding member of the 3MF Consortium, netfabb supports the standard both, for importing and exporting the 3MF file format,

With the fast adoption of 3D printing as a new way of manufacturing across a variety of industries, the need for a uniform file format that can accurately and completely transfer data from a CAD system to a 3D printer became instantly obvious.

The launch of the .3MF file by Microsoft recently is a great next step and important news for the entire 3D design world. It will have large implications in driving the 3D printing industry forward when it comes to the adaption of future technologies and the capabilities arising from it. The large diversity of previous 3D formats have not been able to accomplish such an uniformity.

“.3MF allow companies and designers to concentrate on innovation rather than interoperability issues”

3MF File Format: Overcoming actual Issues and Resolving Interoperability

Modern 3D printers are capable of printing parts that can hardly be described using the existing file formats. The 3MF specification eliminates these problems with currently available formats, such as .STL (too many or too few features), .IGES and STEP (high entrance barriers) and .OBJ (poor manufacturing quality). Finally, the specification overcomes functionality issues and resolves interoperability, enabling companies to focus on innovation in this growing field.

3MF Consortium – A Joint Development Foundation Project

The refreshed .3MF file format – existing for years meanwhile – is supported by various leaders in 3D printing software and hardware, who recently came together in the 3MF Consortium. This new consortium is a joint development foundation project and will initially be made up of seven companies: Microsoft Corporation, Shapeways, Hewlett Packard, Autodesk, netfabb, SLM Solutions and Dassault Systems. The consortium will continue the work to define the 3MF file format and allow 3D models to be sent to other applications, services, platforms, and printers.

“Today Hardware is Ahead of Software: Complexity is Free, Computation not”

Presenting The Future of 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing by Microsoft

For a lot of questions about the new 3MF format, and the grand strategy behind all this, watch the fantastic explanatory talk of Steve and Emmett at the recent Microsoft Build Conference. These 47 minutes capture will show you a lot about the future of 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing.

A Difference in Making – Making a Difference Exhibition by .MGX Materialise

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3D Printing Exhibition Produced by Materialise Is Opening This Month in Brussels

Mark your calendar so you don’t miss our exhibition that is opening this month: ‘Making a Difference – A Difference in Making’ curated by Marta Malé-Alemany, from April 24th to June 7th, 2015 in BOZAR Center for Fine Arts.

A Difference in Making

.MGX will be prominently featured in one section of the exhibition titled “A Difference in Making” where visitors will be able to appreciate a series of inspiring design creations from the early days of 3D Printing to the most fascinating contemporary examples. The featured works have all been conceived as design experiments that explore the formal and material opportunities enabled by the invention and development of 3D printing technology.

Making a Difference - a Difference in Making - .MGX_Bloom Handcrafted finishing
Making a Difference – a Difference in Making – .MGX_Bloom Handcrafted finishing

3D Printing: Making of Complex Forms

Together they illustrate a striking array of the technical and creative potentials of 3D Printing including: the making of complex forms, which are inspired by nature or generated with digital data and advanced software tools; the creation of 3D-printed materials, which exhibit physical properties that cannot be found in traditional materials; the use of 3D-printed scaffolds, which act as support of natural processes of petrification or growth to create physical objects in cooperation with nature; and others.

Thanks to these groundbreaking projects, the technology made a difference. Come and see how 3D Printing was able to make a difference in the life of the individual, the environment and our society!

eLearning by UL: Foundations of 3D Printing

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Underwriters Laboratories (UL) recently introduced a new online 3D printing course, “Foundations of 3D Printing”. Geared to provide lighting professionals, engineers and designers, the cours is aimed to provide a basic knowledge of the fast-emerging additive manufacturing industry.

The reality is 3D printing is growing at an incredible pace, in and beyond lighting. What was once the domain of select engineers and designers utilizing the technology for “solid free-form fabrication” and “rapid prototyping”, 3D printing is now impacting residential, commercial and industrial lighting markets.

Foundations of 3D Printing: Modular eLearning

“Foundations of 3D Printing” is an interactive four-module course made available through eLearning modules created by UL Digital Manufacturing Technologies (DMT). The course is designed for and intended to serve individuals using and relying on UL services.

Geared to those new to or with an interest in this innovative technology, Foundations of 3D Printing is an interactive four-module course that presents comprehensive introductory knowledge of the 3D printing industry. Covering terms and definitions, software and hardware as well as discussing applications and case studies, you will begin to understand the benefits of 3D printing in a way that is relevant to your lighting needs.

In today’s diverse and fast-moving industry, UL is uniquely positioned to provide a trusted, objective, independent point of view and expertise. This is the first step within their larger goal of helping to advance the lighting industry with 3D printing related matters.

The Economist boosting 3DP Interest

Though additive manufacturing technology began in the 1980s, an article in The Economist five years ago really sparked interest in the technology. After that, UL started hearing about a lot of interest from manufacturers about integrating this technology into their production. Not a lot of people know how to use the technology, that’s why UL’s Knowledge Services were tasked to develop and offer a training service for the technology to bring manufacturers “up to speed”.

eLearning course powered by UL covering the Foundations of 3D Printing
eLearning course powered by UL covering the Foundations of 3D Printing

Foundations of 3D Printing: introductory knowledge

“Foundations of 3D Printing” presents comprehensive introductory knowledge of the 3D printing industry. Covering terms and definitions, software and hardware as well as discussing applications and case studies, participants will be taught the benefits of 3D printing in a way relevant to their business needs. In addition, Foundations of 3D Printing introduces concepts related to print process challenges and considerations, benefits and limitations of the applications of various technologies, quality and safety considerations.

Module 1: Introduction to 3D Printing

Module 1, “Introduction to 3D Printing” provides a background of 3D printing, related terminology, a review of the various unique 3D printing processes and basic applications.

Module 2: 3D Printing Hard – & Software

Module 2, “3D Printing Hardware & Software” explores the various software and hardware required for 3D printing. The module introduces computer-aided design (CAD), scanning and repair software as well as tiers of 3D printers, features and selection criteria considerations.

Module 3: The 3D Printing Process

Module 3, “The 3D Printing Process” presents the four phases of the 3D printing process (digital file creation, preparation for printing, printing, post processing) in detail via a simulated case study. This module also begins to discuss quality and safety considerations specific to 3D printing.

Module 4: Applications of 3D printing

Module 4, “Applications of 3D printing” discusses applications of the technology within the aerospace, automotive, healthcare and consumer industries. In addition, the module introduces the 3D printing supply chain, end user categorization, and final considerations for implementing a 3D printing strategy.

UL is offering the four-module “Foundations of 3D Printing” course for $249. The online course takes about 2½ hours, 30 to 40 minutes per module, to complete.

3D printing by McKinsey: Are you ready?

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“3D PRINTING TECHNOLOGY IS POISED TO DELIVER COST BENEFITS AND TO ADVANCE INNOVATION IN MANUFACTURING”

Systems for additive manufacturing, or 3D printing as it’s better known, represent just a fraction of the $70 billion traditional machine-tool market worldwide.1 Yet given the likelihood that this technology will start to realize its promise over the next five to ten years, many leading lighting companies seem surprisingly unaware of its potential—and poorly organized to reap the benefits.

3D printing by McKinsey: 40% respondents unfamiliar with AM technology

A McKinsey survey of leading manufacturers earlier this year showed that 40 percent of the respondents were unfamiliar with additive-manufacturing technology “beyond press coverage.” An additional 12 percent indicated that they thought 3D printing might be relevant but needed to learn more about it (Exhibit 1). Many also admitted that their companies were ill prepared to undertake a cross-organizational effort to identify the opportunities. Two-thirds said that their companies lacked a formal, systematic way to catalog and prioritize emerging technologies in general.

3DPrinting.Lighting_McKinsey 3DP RelevanceAdoption of 3D printing years ahead

The mass adoption of 3D printing—the production of physical items layer by layer, in much the same way an inkjet printer lays down ink—is probably years rather than months away. The 3D printer industry has enjoyed double-digit growth recently; sales of metal printers, indeed, rose by 75 percent from 2012 to 2013. But expert consensus2 indicates that the market penetration is just a fraction (1 to 10 percent) of what it could be given the wide range of possible 3D applications (Exhibit 2).

The wide range of possible 3-D applications suggests that market penetration could increase dramatically.
The wide range of possible 3D printing applications suggests that market penetration could increase dramatically.

 

The 3D printing relevance

Ten percent of the executives in our survey already find the technology “highly relevant.” They see 3D printing’s ability to increase geometric complexity and reduce time to market as the key business benefits, closely followed by reduced tooling and assembly costs. Those who expect to be among the next wave of users were much more likely to cite reducing inventories of spare parts as one of the advantages. Additive manufacturing, in short, seems set to change the way companies bring their products to market and respond to customer needs. But predicting a “tipping point” is difficult.

Closing the gap – traditional vs. new

Much will depend on when and how quickly overall printing costs fall, a development that should narrow the still-yawning gap between the cost of new and traditional manufacturing methods. In sintering-based 3D printing technologies,3 for example, there are two major expense categories. The machines and their maintenance typically account for 40 to 60 percent of total printing costs. The materials used in the manufacturing process can account for 20 to 30 percent when using common materials such as aluminum, or 50 to 80 percent when printing with exotic materials such as titanium. Labor and energy make up the rest.

New features and steady pricing

In all likelihood, prices for sintering-based printers will remain steady or rise in the near term thanks to the introduction of new technical features, such as enhanced automation. But patent expirations and new entrants in Asia should apply downward pressure over the next ten years. The cost of materials ought to drop in the long term as third-party firms become credible alternative powder suppliers and as increased demand for powder enhances scale efficiencies more generally. Throughput rates are expected to increase on the back of growing laser power, higher numbers of lasers, and better projection technology. All of that will serve to reduce expensive machine time.

Scenarios for sintering-based printers

The McKinsey research on sintering-based printers examined two possibilities: In the “base” scenario, costs remain largely at their present level and companies come to understand the benefits of additive manufacturing only gradually. In the “market shock” scenario, printing costs fall precipitously—say, by 30 or even 50 percent over a ten-year period. Early signs of these cost-shifting dynamics can be seen in plastic sintering. One new Chinese entrant is already selling comparable selective laser-sintering machines at a price 25 to 30 percent below that of a leading Western supplier. Asian players are offering technically comparable nylon powders at prices that are more than 30 percent lower than those of their Western rivals. Price undercutting is less dramatic for nontraditional blends, such as carbon-filled powders used in strong but lightweight parts (those in racing cars, for example).

Digital technologies and expertise expected to dominate manufacturing

While there have been false dawns before for 3-D printing as a whole, companies cannot afford to be complacent. That will be especially true if the expected benefits to innovation are not only magnified by cost reductions but also bring into scope whole new industries and product categories. CEOs and COOs above all need to examine the readiness of their companies for a future in which a range of integrated digital technologies (of which 3D could be one of the most significant) will dominate manufacturing and competitors will probably be building additive manufacturing into their value chains. That means focusing on better organizational cohesion and considering partnerships with external organizations (such as local contract-printing bureaus) that have the necessary technical expertise.

Building executive engineering, quality, operations & procurement champions

Beyond the C-suite, companies should build a group of executive champions within the engineering, quality, operations, and procurement units. Some aerospace and medical-device companies, for example, already have teams scanning their entire design portfolios for parts that could benefit from this technology. Furthermore, the introduction of 3D printing into complex manufacturing environments would require big changes in quality-assurance and control processes: companies would have to replace old protocols relying on extensive up-front testing and validation of traditional production tools, such as molds. Since additive manufacturing reduces or even eliminates the need for these tools, organizations must understand the steps needed to satisfy their quality requirements in the future.

Upcoming: challenges & opportunities

The coming years will bring new opportunities and challenges. Companies with savvy executives who raise awareness, fill talent gaps, and build the necessary organizational capabilities will be well positioned to benefit from this breakthrough technology.

About the authors

The arguments in this piece are mainly derived from a previous article by Daniel Cohen, an alumnus of McKinsey’s New York office, “Fostering mainstream adoption of industrial 3D printing: Understanding the benefits and promoting organizational readiness,” 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing, June 2014, Volume 1, Number 2, pp. 62–9.

Source: McKinsey & Partners, “Insights & Publications

Luxexcel launches Online Order Platform for Bespoke Illumination Optics

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“World’s leading 3D printing process for illumination optics now easy accessible online”

LUXeXceL Group launches a brand new ‘Online Ordering Platform’ to further extend its 3D manufacturing services. At the website www.luxexcel.com/upload users can now submit their custom Optics Design (CAD file) in a private and secure online environment. With this new online service, users have the possibility to create their personal, private and secure gallery with a 24/7/365 availability.

Smooth translucent parts straight from the printer with free complexity.
Smooth translucent parts straight from the printer with free complexity.

Transparent 3D printing goes digital

Luxexcel’s business-to-business 3D printing service will bring transparent 3D printing closer to the lighting market, as well as a great variety of other markets and businesses. The full ordering process has now gone digital, what comes along with optimal flexibility and the possibility to order on demand, in quantities as needed.

“BESPOKE optical designs can be tested within minutes and users receive their quote instantly”

In this way, large stocks become irrelevant. Unique customized optical designs can be tested within minutes and users will receive their quote instantly. Prototyping and testing a transparent products is now easy due to the very rapid throughput time of the 3D printing service. If variations are needed or design changes appear, users can easily modify their design and upload another file at their personal gallery. This gallery contains a library of all the uploaded designs.

Printed Collimator Lens Arrays by Luxexcel - all printed in one shot, parts can either be all the same or all different.
Printed Collimator Lens Arrays by Luxexcel – all printed in one shot, parts can either be all the same or all different.

President & Founder Richard van de Vrie is excited about the online ordering platform: “At LUXeXceL we strive to make our service better every day. Our new online ordering platform makes doing business with us much easier than before. The process of our new online platform is very simple: Upload your file, receive an instant quote and order your product. An easy to use and fast online ordering service to receive your optics and transparent products on demand”.

Online ordering – how does it work?

After creating an account users can upload their CAD file at the Online Order Platform. Simultaneously, users will receive instant feedback on the printability of the design they submitted. Once a file is uploaded, it will become available in a personal user gallery.

At the gallery, users can manage all uploaded designs and easily order their product. Accordingly, the product will be printed within a maximum of 10 business days, using the ‘Expedite Service’ secures delivery within the week.

Luxexcel’s Online Order Portal for fast and on-demand ordering of bespoke illumination optics.

Printoptical Technology benefits

The digital ordering platform brings the new possibilities with printed optics closer to a variety of businesses and stimulates them to discover the renewed possibilities with Printoptical Technology. The combination of the online ordering platform and Luxexcel’s proprietary technology has several main benefits.

“Ordering custom optics online HAS NEVER BEEN so easy!”

The optics printing technology is able to print extremely smooth surfaces and is suitable for products that demand the highest standard in transparency. Regular 3D printing methods stack layers, therefore, they are not able to deliver smooth and transparent printed products straight from the process. Thus a significant amount of handling needed to come to a valiable end product. On the contrary, Luxexcel’s 3D printing methodology provides “droplets-on-demand” to create an accurate and precise end-product, readily available for use!

The 3D Printing Eleven (6): Short Lead Times (1)

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“ADOPTION OF 3D PRINTING RESULTS IN SHORTENED CYCLE TIMES AND FASTER MARKETING”

Speed is a fundamental advantage of 3D printing that is critical in the race to bring new lighting products to market. When asked, most all of those performing 3D printing will confirm that speed is important in product development and project planning. But how fast is fast enough, and how is speed measured?

What lighting product designers and manufacturers really want is an efficient manufacturing process: one that has only a few bottlenecks, less manual efforts and a quick response. To discover that kind of efficiency, it is important to understand your company’s operations and to learn about the truth about the processing time of 3D printing.

3D Printing Speed: Short Lead Times

In the daily practice, speed is a relative measure, and when it comes to 3D printing, it is influenced by many variables. Simply dividing manufacturing technologies in “fast” and “slow” buckets is misleading. While some generalizations are fitting, few hold true when considering the entire picture of speed.

 

“To reliable measure the manufacturing speed, you best clock the full process: Start the timer at the moment you finish your CAD file and stop it when the printed part is ready for use”

 

The Full 3D Printing Process

The building time, the physical time that a part spends in the 3D printer, is the most common measure of defining process speed. But honestly, it is just one component of the elapsed time that’s needed to complete a full part. The 3D printing process has many different stages, including:

  1. preparing the print file;
  2. preparing the print system;
  3. building of the part;
  4. post build printer operations;
  5. post-processing (such as polishing, painting or coating).

Preparing for Print

On the front end, there’s time needed to set up the job including the orientation, supporting, slicing and application of the build style. Many users are surprised about how much time is needed to prepare the printer, to load or to swap the print materials and to warm-up the printer, especially if you come from a ‘cold start’. Before running a print job, you might need to wait anywhere from just ‘several’ minutes to even ‘a couple of’ hours.

Post-building process

Right after the build process is finished, two steps still have to be taken: ‘post-build idle’ and ‘post-processing’. After a part is built parts may have to drain, binders may need time to harden or chambers may have to cool, depending on the process. These delays vary from almost no time to many hours. For some manufacturing technologies, build time is effectively doubled because parts have to cool for nearly as long as they were building.

Once you can handle the parts, it’s time to post-process them. Every technology requires some form of post-processing, and the time to complete this step varies widely. For an accurate sense of delivery speed, you need an understanding of the actions needed. Depending on the process, these steps might include: cleaning of the parts, post-curing, de-powdering, support removal, polishing or other steps.

Automated or Manual?

When having limited resources available, don’t forget to take into account the impact of labor-dependent processes on delivery time. What happens if your staff is not ready and waiting for the job? And how much time will they need to complete the action? For every manual step, without resources being in place, delivery time can swell. This can become a critical factor and even a bottleneck to delivery. The advantages of automation are most notable in the post processing phase. For example, a 3D printing technology that spits out dozens of small, highly detailed parts in a few hours may have delivery time measured in days if each part requires more than a few minutes for support removal and finishing.

This scenario becomes even more impactful if a skilled design engineer is needed. For example, removing supports made of the same material as the part is not a job for an unskilled worker. It takes an experienced hand and keen eye to discern where the part stops and supports begin. If your resources are so thin that you will be doing all this post processing by yourself, you’ll have to consider whether you have the time to take on this work or not.

Build Time Variances

Build time exists of many different variables, some that you select and others that are fixed. In the fixed category, consider the details of the parts. It is widely known that the height of the part drives time: For every technology, the taller the part, the longer the build time. But many overlook other factors, such as material volume, surface area and part footprint and configuration. Each might add hours to the build time!

Time is a crucial factor when using 3D printing for your purposes and a crucial advantage in product development. However, time is also a benefit that’s influenced by various pre- and post-process variables. To learn the truth about speed, you should discover what affects time and how that translates to your parts. There will be a follow-up post in the next weeks on this extensive topic. Make sure you stay connected!

 


References:
[1] The Truth about Speed: Is the hare really the fastest? White Paper by Rob Winker, Stratasys, Inc.

The 3D Printing Eleven (5): No Assembly Required

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A SHIFT IS UNDERWAY: APPLICATIONS OF 3D PRINTING TO FINAL PART PRODUCTION WILL BE ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING SEGMENTS OF THE FUTURE LIGHTING MARKET

3D printing technology is likely to have an enormous impact on the future of the lighting business. It will change the way lighting components and even entire products finally will be created, manufactured and distributed. It doesn’t however automatically mean it’s going to be good for anyone involved. The outlook for many lighting companies hinge on the way they will respond to this fast evolving technology and the competitive implications it is expected to have.

Integrated Part Production: No Assembly Required

In addition to the multiple subcomponents required to create a final lighting module, there are also the many brackets and fasteners that are required to hold all the different parts of the product together, such as screws, clips, mounting rings, etc. But with 3D printing, such complexity is free. Intricate structures can be created without the need for direct machine-tool access, reducing the need for multiple subcomponents. Instead of being built together from many different components, it is manufactured as a single piece. Eliminating 95 percent (or the half, or less) of all the pieces required for assembly is almost certainly a good thing for any business. But what will be the implications for the producers of each of those “lower-level items”? Logically speaking: their support will not be needed anymore.

 

“Eliminating multiple pieces through integrated parts production is a very attractive scenario. But what will the implications be for the producers of each of those lower-level items?”


Subcomponents: Subject to Elimination

The closer you are to producing subcomponents that are not core to the function of higher-level assemblies – e.g. that screw that holds a PCB on the top of a complex heat sink -, the more strategic the uncertainty you may face. If the need for assembly is significantly reduced (or even eliminated), ancillary components may become unnecessary and therefore, they are subject to elimination. Most companies are still in the very early stages of exploring the impact that 3D printing can have beyond its traditional role as a driver of rapid prototyping, but nonetheless, a shift is underway. It’s worth to reflect your companies capabilities, your core business and to think about the future.

What to do next?
There are a couple of steps that lighting company leaders can begin to take to position themselves for success, rather than being possible obsolescence, in an 3D printing-enabled marketplace:

Understand your position in the overall supply chain.
Do your company’s products facilitate the assembly of a complicated, higher-level assembly? If so, and especially if your product’s function is incidental to the function of the higher-level assembly, then your business may be at long-term risk from 3D printing diffusion. You might want to think about how subcomponent elimination might affect your position in the supply chain.

• Get a feeling about how your supply-chain partners approach 3D printing
Are they moving beyond rapid prototyping applications to manufacture for end use? If yes, then time may be of the essence. Consider how your company will develop the technical capability to match or better exceed your competitors’ and other supply chain partners’ ability to disintermediate you. If not, please start looking for opportunities to strike as a first mover to blunt competitors’ future efforts. Either way, you want to position your company to benefit from possible part consolidations rather than being hurt by them.

Supply Chain Consolidation

It is increasingly possible to imagine an 3D printing-driven shift toward supply chain consolidation, even as 3D printing technology is celebrated for democratizing production in other ways. AM technologies are rapidly evolving, and key aspects of their value proposition are increasingly clear. If not free, complexity is, at a minimum, getting less expensive. That may be a generally good thing, but some lighting companies may suffer in the transition, just like many others did in the transition from conventional light sources towards led based solutions.

Apart from making our readers aware of the many benefits of 3D printing technology, this article is also meant to raise awareness for the impact it might have on the near future business and how it could force established companies to reflect the way they are doing business and to understand their place in the overall supply chain, now and in the near future.

We’ll be back soon with Volume 6 and learn how ‘short lead times’ will result in shorter cycle times and faster marketing of lighting products. Thanks again for reading this post.

‘Optics John’ – Volume II is Out!

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‘OPTICS JOHN’- VOLUME 2: THE ADVANTAGES OF 3D PRINTED LED OPTICS

John is an Optics Designer working at an R&D department in the Lighting Industry. John has a problem: he has created a new lens design and needs to produce a small badge of prototypes in order to convince his client to choose his product. If choosen, he will also need a small series of about 100 pieces produced for the actual project itself.

3DPrinting.Lighting_Optics John Customer Satisfaction Fast, Affordable and Functional

John has a limited budget and can affort large upfront investments in tools or molds, and he can’t let wait his client wait for weeks on him when his components are produced either, but he needs affordable and functional prototypes fast. John gets worried, even frustrated, and searches the internet for a better solution… and finds one! LUXeXceL offers 3D printed optics and it looks likes this is just what John needs!

Ordering optics on demand, in quantities as needed.
Ordering optics on demand, in quantities as needed.

Ordering On Demand in Quantities as Needed

Let’s have a look to what this means for John! No more costs for molds and tools, large upfront investments are no longer necessary! With 3D printing, optics can be sent to you in days, instead of weeks, or even months! Because you can order on demand, and there are no minimum order quantities, obsolete inventory is now a thing of the past. Inventory can now be digitally stored on your computer, saving both money and the environment.

Optics John: 3D printing enables Lighting Product Customization per individual project.
Optics John: 3D printing enables Lighting Product Customization per individual project.

3D Printing Enables Lighting Customization

3D printing also allow for a lot of new and differently shaped optics to be produced than what’s to be used possible. And the best part: light distribution can now be finally customized. It can be customized per project, per application, or even per single product. John knows enough: he uploads his CAD file to the LUXeXceL website, receives his quote, and orders his optics, which is easy and fast.

Zero upfront investments and ni minimum order quantities lead to increased profits
Zero upfront investments and no minimum order quantities lead to increased profits.

Just a few days later he already receives them by mail. His client is thrilled by the quality of the products, his boss is happy because John has kept his costs to a minimum, and optical designer John is proud to finally deliver the quality optics he wanted. Even for custom projects!

 

EDITOR PICKS