Manufactured Agility: How 3D Printing is Leading to a New Era in Manufacturing

The global business climate is changing at an ever-increasing pace. Companies are forced to reassess business models, approaches to product innovation, manufacturing, production, and delivery of their products in radical new ways. Enter one of the most prolific digital business tools ready to aid in a capitalizing on this sea of change, additive manufacturing.

Additive manufacturing empowers companies to be proactive and respond to customer requirements with speed, precision, and quality. Companies can efficiently manage industry demands for personalization and customization, faster time-to-market, and delivery of more innovative and differentiated products.

Jabil’s additive manufacturing portfolio currently includes technologies such as fused filament fabrication (FFF), selective laser sintering (SLS), high speed sintering (HSS), and liquid resin technologies of stereolithography, direct light processing, and polyjet. We utilize a cloud-based network to manage and optimize our fleets of 3D printers around the globe, enabling customers to move manufacturing workloads to regions and into markets that result in the lowest landed cost and enables more efficient product personalization. We scale globally to integrate every printer, facility and work order into a secure and reliable distributed manufacturing system.

Additive manufacturing is a mold-less, fixture-less production technology which speeds parts or products into production and enables just-in-time manufacturing. This greatly reduces the need to maintain large amounts of inventory. And we use certified manufacturing processes for producing functional parts in quantities of tens of thousands or in very small batches.

In Singapore, Jabil utilizes HP Multi Jet Fusion printers to produce over 150 discrete parts for HP’s newest Jet Fusion Series 300 / 500 printers—in the very same building where the printers for HP are assembled

Agile Defined

Because additive manufacturing doesn’t require cumbersome tools or mold revisions, the time and costs associated with production change-over are nearly eliminated. The simple process of sending a CAD file to print the file means that in the time it takes to make one iteration with traditional manufacturing, 19 iterations can be completed with 3D printing.

Other competitive advantages with additive manufacturing include:

  • Improved customer service levels.
  • Establishment as the industry leader for new product introduction and innovation.
  • Opening new business models such as repair, refurbishment, and product upgrades.
  • Support for low- and mid-volume, high-value production.
  • Shortened product lifecycle and overall reduction in business operating costs.

There are ten key additive manufacturing technologies and capabilities that make these benefits a reality:

1.Prototyping

Traditionally the time between product design and full-scale production has been long and wrought with excessive costs. With 3D printing prototyping capabilities, companies can easily reduce the time between idea and customer delivery. Design and engineering teams can provide multiple design iterations that can be printed, reviewed, and adjusted with zero downtime.

2.Fixtureless Tooling

The design limitations that come with jigs, fixtures, and tooling are eliminated with additive manufacturing. Now designers and engineers can take advantage of complex internal lattice structures, lightweight construction, and micro-components to improve overall functionality.

These design improvements mean that companies can reduce their overall time of design, manufacture, production and delivery, further extending their ability to quickly respond to customer demands and industry trends.

3.Accelerated Time to Market

From the design through QA to final product delivery, additive manufacturing reduces the time-to-market from months to a few days. Designers can get multiple iterations of 3D printed prototypes into the hands of quality assurance, certification, and human factors experts faster, speeding the review and approval time of new products and reducing the downtime that comes with lengthy review and design cycles.

4.Mass Customization and Personalization

With additive manufacturing capabilities, customers can log into a secure website and design a custom pair of running shoes with the exact colors, materials, and cushioning they want and receive the shoes within a week. The costs that come with warehousing, shipping, and eventually disposing of end-of-life products can be minimized in industries and markets where the demand for custom parts and products is becoming the standard.

5.Quality Assurance and Quality Control

Our Materials, Processes, and Machines (MPM) process ensures we produce reliable parts that consistently and repeatedly meet qualifications and certification standards. Additive manufacturing gives you the confidence that your part design is not impacted by flaws in the tooling, molds, and fixtures used in traditional manufacturing.

With improved design and better materials, comes a consolidated BOM, reducing room for error and manufacturing inconsistencies. You can gain the benefits from lighter components and better overall parts and assemblies, allowing for the maintenance of quality assurance and quality control standards.

6.BOM Consolidation

As an example, the benefits that come from shrinking a component from 73 individual parts to just one part has a massive trickle-down effect throughout your entire business model. The supply chain is tightened and improved, the reliability and consistency of production increases, parts are lighter and use smarter design geometries, tooling and fixture costs are eliminated, and the durability and lifecycle of parts increases.

7.Low- and Mid-Volume Production

The majority of companies are constrained by the costs and logistics that come with manufacturing and delivering low- and mid-volume production batches. However, with the reduction of costs to produce using digital technologies such as additive manufacturing, we are now able to deliver low-volume production runs cost-effectively and quickly.

The break-even analysis is highly dependent on geometry. Smaller parts tend to have higher break-even points when compared to injection molding, while larger parts tend to have lower break-even points. A review of a recent program for a hand-held controller saw this range span from 5,000 parts to 25,000. The project offered a savings of more than $300,000 in injection molding tooling by utilizing additive technologies. We expect that over the next three years, both material and platform costs will decline rapidly to increase these break-even points to well over 100,000 parts.

8.Full-Scale Production

With each new iteration of 3D printers, the breakeven between additive manufacturing and injection molding gets closer. For example, Jabil’s partnership with HP to use 3D printers to produce 3D printer parts, has resulted in additive manufacturing breakeven points climbing from 5,000 units to 40,000 units. Because we can prototype on the same industrial 3D printers used to produce parts at scale, the production time is reduced, and quality and performance standards are strictly monitored and achieved.

9.Local Distribution

On-demand local production and distribution is a true transformative benefit of additive manufacturing. Heavy equipment, transportation, automotive, industrial machine and aerospace companies no longer need to manage, staff, and support large warehouses of legacy parts across the globe. Additive manufacturing allows companies to position themselves in geographic locations closest to where the parts are required. The capability to speed the delivery and support of new products to customers, the enablement of fast and reliable repairs, and the reduction of legacy warehouse shelves to a folder of digital files, all highlight the real strength of local distribution for a company of any size.

10.Distributed Manufacturing

Geography is no longer a barrier to getting customers the products they need when and where they want them. The Jabil Additive Manufacturing Network connects factories around the globe enabling distributed manufacturing, allowing companies to design in one location and manufacture in one that is closer to the customer. The Jabil Additive Manufacturing Network is a growing, globally-distributed footprint of 3D printers and additive manufacturing capabilities with access to more than 120 Jabil manufacturing sites. With a dedicated expertise centered on additive Materials, Process and Machines (MPM), we continually deliver new materials and equipment to enable the best approach to match your requirements. With no tools and custom parts, additive manufacturing enables the use of the digital thread to allow for a truly collaborative, transparent, and efficient supply chain.

Stay Agile with Jabil

With additive manufacturing and the ability to significantly reduce time to market, you can establish your company as the leader in being agile and responsive to market demands. Win the competitive race with a new product introduction, new business models, in responding to customer requests, and in reduced operating costs.

Jabil is a $22 billion global enterprise with around 180,000 employees and over 120 facilities in 29 countries. Our Jabil Additive Manufacturing Network is the “digital thread” that connects additive manufacturing operations around the world, aligning with Jabil’s software and services for supply-chain management, product development, and engineering/design. Learn how Jabil can exponentially increase your competitive agility today!

Manufactured Agility: How Additive is Leading to a New Era in Manufacturing