The supply reliability of OEM-businesses is often under pressure. This is obvious for a number of reasons. Firstly we learn that an OEM often attracts and finds its customers within a specific sector. As such, fluctuations apply for all customers at the same time, in terms of market or season. This affects the supply reliability.
Sustainability mind-set gives 3D printing an extra boost
The market for 3D printing is growing spectacularly. It is expected to exceed 20 billion dollars within a decade. This certainly did not appear to be the case from the beginning. Let’s not forget, after all, that 3D printing was invented in the early eighties and enjoyed very little success. Only in 2009, when an important patent lapsed, could others enter this market, and success followed. Start-ups in particular made great progress, supported by the enormous media hype that propagated around printing.
The established names (read: Hewlett Packard and General Electric, to name but a few) have now fully embraced this technology. In the first instance 3D printing was employed for the production of prototypes. Subsequently the first models of a product for field tests were 3D printed. And now we have gone a step further and 3D printers are regularly selected for the actual manufacturing. This gives us, as product designers, enormous design freedom. Nothing is impossible and more complex no longer means more expensive.
Customers and users also embrace the technology. Their motivation is sometimes very different from that of designers. In the case of 3D printing, material is only added, whereas traditional methods generally remove material. The prevention of waste within the green mind-set, that has clearly entered the market, is a strong argument. And the fact that 3D printed designs can often be lighter in weight (materials and freight costs), plays a role too. Menzing is part of this trend that we are observing and deploys this technology with increasing frequency for manufacturing runs.