If you have not been thinking about printing your pizza at home, you are falling way behind. More specifically, I’m talking about 3D printing or Additive Manufacturing – the next disruptive technology that is already here and is shaking up your industry as you read this. It is already having a profound impact on your entire supply chain (including what your customers are demanding) and will shake up the core value proposition of entire industries. Enough hyperbole?
Simply put, if you can think it, you will be able to create it. Just let that sink in for a moment. This means customization in batches of one. It means throwing out almost all design constraints because of material or manufacturing limitations. It means moving the production of a pizza in Pizza Hut and into your family room where you might have your printer right next to your couch. NASA just funded a project to develop such a printer (prototype already built) where the shelf life of the pizza will be 30 years! Blue neon color sausage flavored with chocolate because that’s what your 9 year old decided was cool! Now think about the totally disruptive impact of that on the entire supply chain – base level ingredients packed in cartridges shipped to homes – not grocery stores! Designs and intellectual property rights become far more important – you could get a patent on that blue sausage!
This is already being used in bio-technology. From hearing aids to ears(yes, Ears) to blood vessels with much, much more on the way. It’s called Regenerative Medicine and it’s already saving lives. Entire organs are on the way(hearts, kidneys, livers). Manufacturers are already using it to fundamentally change their operations. “We’re able to build shapes that you can’t mould, cast or forge – pieces you can’t make in any other way but through additive manufacturing.” All this means specialist parts now cost a fraction of what they once did. “This allows us to avoid fixed costs and it means we don’t have to carry stock because we can manufacture parts on demand,” says Doe. He cites one car project, where a total of £80,000 was saved using 3D printing. Not only can the company print parts, but it can print its own tools. “Modification of pieces of tooling – which previously would have cost around £10,000 – we can now print for £10,” says Doe. “The machines themselves were a heck of an investment in the past – some of the big ones were six figures. They now cost around £20,000.” He says the company has already recouped the cost.
While high speed, high volume solutions are being worked on, consumer can buy this technology for $1,000 today. Metals are now being incorporated into the technology. As with any disruptive technologies, it is going through its lifecycle but at an extremely accelerated pace. Bottom Line: If your company does not yet have a 3D strategy in place throughout its entire Value Chain, it may be time to help the crane take its head out of the sand. If you are not pushing this throughout your entire Supply Base and demanding to know what they are doing with it, you may end up with an antiquated supply chain very quickly. To schedule a detailed discussion with your leaders, please contact us for help.