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Rapid Production of Prototypes

Question:

Discuss about the Effects of Standardization and Innovation.

Many advances in the technology world has led to the fast progress and the rapid change in lifestyle that is being experienced. 3D printing is one such technology. Although the technology is not new, the applications have been developed in the recent years. Organizations are becoming aware of the vast implementations of 3D printing and is adopting them for cheaper and faster modes of manufacturing. The CEO of the XYZ organization wants to use this technology to increase the manufacturing capabilities of the organization as well as to expand its business in the next five years. XYZ organization is a major manufacturer of consumer products such as refrigerators, microwave ovens and many more. However, producing such goods requires a huge amount of stock and inventory space for storing the finished goods. The company incurs huge warehousing and insurance costs for maintaining such a huge inventory. Making spare parts has been an issue. Manufacturing spare parts for old models is completely stopped after a fixed period of time. This creates problems for customers who are using old products. The purpose of this report is to analyze and implement 3D technology for XYZ organization to reduce the manufacturing cost and increase production efficiency. Various scholarly literature sources including published journals have been used along with consulting various websites for research purposes. The contents of this report would include an elaboration of the different applications of 3D printing technology and a recommendation section that shows the implementation of 3D printing technology in the XYZ organization.

Rapid Production of Prototypes: Physical replicas can be created using 3D printing. Replicas of new parts or new designs of products can be made. Therefore, this process was later named as ‘rapid prototyping’ (Macdonald et al., 2014). These replicas are a perfect copy of the original and can be made even in the absence of the original item. The new parts or products thus printed can be used as prototypes for understanding the working of the parts in their new environment. This is therefore the most economical method to test out new products and spare parts. New designs often entail failures as the new product might not be able to completely fulfil the requirement that it was supposed to in the first place. Molds and different other equipment is required for making a finalized product (Kalpakjian & Schmid, 2014). However, in the event that the product is scrapped then the molds and some equipment must be changed in order to make adjustments to the product or the new parts. Such equipment is expensive and many companies cannot afford changed to it even before production has started. In the earlier times, the process making a replica took longer. Nevertheless, after the automation process was introduced, the time required for producing the replicas reduced considerably. Therefore, the prototyping and design changes now can be performed in a week rather than months.

Design Iteration

Design Iteration: Designing prototypes was not enough as the market demand and the production needs rose (Gao et al., 2015). Therefore, the design iteration has been developed where multiple designs of the same product was created for testing purposes. This has made the design testing process cheap and easy to implement. Ford is utilizing this technique to develop multiple prototype engines that can be tested before a design is finalized for mass production. In the earlier days, before the use of 3D printing technology for design iteration and testing, the engineers at Ford used to make separate molds for each design (Hoag & Dondlinger 2015). One design was created and tested for performance. In the event, that the test was successful and was able to meet all the requirements then the prototype was then mass produced. However, if the prototype was not suitable then it was discarded and another had to be made and it took months of time and a huge amount of money to reach the perfectly working prototype (Schwartz, 2016). Now, Ford uses 3D printing to make different versions of the same engine and then test them out at the time. This not only save time but also money. Now, the desired solution is received faster and more efficiently than before.

Production in Low Volumes: High amounts of production is needed to achieve the break-even point of production cost to the number of units manufactured. Every manufacturing unit is very costly and generally a production process is only started when the number of units to be produced is very high in comparison to the number of units to be manufactured (Paton et al., 2014). For small amounts of production needs, 3D printing is instead used that save the cost of production by a huge amount. The companies are opting for this technology especially for orders that entails production for 1000 units or even less. This is an estimated number and it will change depending on the nature of the product. In the event that the product is of nature such as an exotic car, then mas production is not an option as in that case every unit is produced separately (Mellor, Hao & Zhang, 2014). Therefore, for such scenarios the use of 3D printing technology is very helpful. This is because only a small number of cars are being produced and therefore the total investment for production is drastically reduced due to the use 3D printing. Additionally, the spare parts can also be printed by using this technology, which would bring down the cost of production even further and provide the parts on demand.

Production in Low Volumes


Individually Customized Mass Production: The mass production of customized products is becoming a trend to satisfy the needs of each individual customer (Tseng & Hu, 2014). The medical industry is the most frequent user of this model. People with damaged or worn out knee can take a knee transplant surgery. However, during the surgery the most suitable knee among a set of pre-manufactured artificial knee was selected by the doctor and that was used. Some cases produced complications for the patient due to the knee incompatibility (Barman & Canizares, 2015). The invent of 3D printing for this scenario completely removed those complications. This is because the knee of the patient was scanned before the surgery and then a customized knee replacement was produced using 3D printing. Invisalign uses 3D printing technology to create customized teeth for their dental patients. The idea is that every person has their distinct set of teeth. Therefore, the company manufactures customized teeth by scanning the teeth set of different patients. Nevertheless, customization is not cheap and the customers have to pay a lot of money for individual customization (Wang et al., 2016) However, this is an appropriate application of 3D technology for industries, which depends on customization for providing better service to their customers.

Minimization of Physical Inventory: 3D printing technology has been an advantage to companies that require a huge inventory space (Bhogal et al., 2016). Industries such as the automobile industry require a huge inventory space for storing materials for making the cars, the finished cars and a stock of spare parts for those cars. Maintaining such inventory space is expensive due to factors such as warehouse rent, insurance and parts that get basically stolen or lost. These scenarios can be avoided using 3D technology as the companies can produce only what is required by the customer and upon receiving the order (Zhang, Lv & Shi, 2017). The size of the inventory thus shrinks to a huge level and therefore only raw materials and finished products ready to be delivered are stored. This type of production follows the lean manufacturing model where the product is created upon receiving an order from a customer. Toyota is one such company that follows this lean manufacturing model. They produce depending on the order that they receive. Therefore, this company and such a manufacturing process is most suitable for production using 3D technology as they can produce new cars faster after receiving an order from the customer.

Individually Customized Mass Production

XYZ is a company that manufactures consumer products such as refrigerators. Therefore, such company will require very specific 3D printing applications to boost their production while minimizing the cost incurred per unit produced.

Rapid Production of Prototypes: Consumer appliances such as refrigerators, microwave ovens and washing machines must be tested rigorously before they can be sold to the customer for personal use. The material testing must be done on completely finished product to test the strength of the materials with which they are made (Ambrosi & Pumera, 2016). However, the testing of the design can be conducted on prototypes created using 3D printing technology. The most advanced and rigorous form of testing can be made on these prototypes without the fear of cost or time overrun. These prototypes are easy to make and they are cheap. Therefore, rapid prototyping can be used to test new designs at low cost. The primary advantage that this application of 3D printing would produce to the company is the reduction of cost that   they have to incur for creating and testing prototypes. These are therefore the most advanced form of testing that would be related to using prototypes only. However, this rapid production of prototypes has several disadvantages too that the company must be aware of and must apply 3D printing technology for making prototypes only when the circumstances are right. The prototypes that is created using 3D printing technology can only be tested for design failures (Lücking et al., 2015). The building material of various appliances must also be tested for tensile strength and various other mechanical tests that must be completed before these appliances are shipped to the customers. Spare parts can also be produced and tested using 3D printing. These appliances are used on daily basis and on a large scale. Therefore, a large stock of spare parts is required for repairing the appliances. Thus, using these spare parts made from 3D printing technology for testing can be beneficial to save costs as well as save time. Time can be saved as parts can be made at a faster rate with 3D printing technology than with conventional methods. In the manufacturing industry cost reduction is necessary, however time reduction is also needed to effectively reduce the cost of production even further.

Production in Low Volumes: The production of different appliances varies depending on the demand. Some appliances such as the air conditioner and the refrigerator are in more demand in the summer season whereas heaters, geysers and microwave ovens are more in demand in the winter season (Gebler, Uiterkamp & Visser, 2014). Therefore, these appliances must be produced depending on the demand on the market. Producing excessively will only increase the size of the finished goods stock. Therefore, the company can use this application of 3D technology when it needs to produce in low volumes and therefore cost of production is reduced as well as the storage space required to keep the finished products. As discussed in the above sections of the report, producing in low volumes accost less when 3D printing technology is used for the production. The cost to production ratio must be high for traditional methods of manufacturing to get a high return on investment (Dennis, 2016). However, if low amounts of production are required the return on investment would me very low and at best marginal. Therefore, it is necessary that the company follows uses 3D printing to get the highest amount of return on investment. In the event that the company does decide to branch into other industries such as the medical industry, then this application model will help them in that industry as well.

Minimization of Physical Inventory

Minimization of Physical Inventory: Maintaining physical inventory is nonpreferable by many industries and companies, as the cost of storing the inventory is very high. Inventory maintenance. The company will be able to save a lot of investment by using 3D printing technology as they keep a virtual inventory in place of the physical inventory. Saving cost of production is of prime importance to all the companies. However, maintaining the quality of the produced goods is also necessary as the customers will not be satisfied with low quality products and is highly unethical on the part of the company to do so (Chuang & Oliva, 2015). Therefore, XYZ can adopt this technology to minimize the physical inventory required for their manufacturing purposes. The most advanced utilization of the 3D printing technology is that of maintaining a virtual inventory as they can be very helpful for companies that do not have sufficient resources, which can be allocated for production. This form of technology will prove to be beneficial for them. This is because now they can reduce the cost of warehousing required to store inventory, maintaining insurance of that inventory that consists of raw materials, finished products and spare parts. Loss or theft of inventory are thus avoided due to this reduction of inventory.

Conclusion

Therefore, it can be concluded that the 3D printing technology can be utilized to reduce the production cost while maintaining the quality of the products and increasing the speed of production in the process. 3D printing technology is becoming a trend in many companies primarily in the manufacturing and the medical industry. The uses of this technology are limitless and the applications are coming to light only in the recent years. XYZ organization can use this technology to upgrade their manufacturing process and make it as cost effective as possible without compromising the quality. The problem of XYZ organization is that they wanted to expand their business by incurring as low cost as possible as any new venture requires a huge amount of investment that must be used to buy equipment and resources. Thus, 3D printing technology will definitely help them in their venture to maximize productivity and increase business. This report was able to achieve its objectives for providing sufficient information about 3D technology to the CEO of XYZ company and the advantages that they would have if they use this technology. However, 3D printing will face upgrades in the near future and some aspects of it might change. Therefore, the company must keep its resources open to change as the applications will vary depending on the use. In the future, XYZ can expand into the medical industry from the manufacturing industry and therefore, 3D printing will aid them on that as well but the applications will slightly change.

Three applications of 3D printing technology were proposed in the above sections of the report. The future of these applications with the use of this technology will be discussed in this section.

Rapid production of prototypes can be utilized by the company to make various advances in the future such as use those prototypes not only for testing purposes but also for presentation purposes. Many times, the requirement of the client is vague and it takes considerable time to figure it out. Therefore, multiple iterations of the same product can be made and presented to the client and he or she will choose which version is required. Production in low volumes can be used to develop small batches of different products so that the client has immediate supply of the product that he or she requires. This will give the client a diversity of choice. Virtual inventory can be used to easily expand the business in the future at low cost.

Reference List

Ambrosi, A., & Pumera, M. (2016). 3D-printing technologies for electrochemical applications. Chemical Society Reviews, 45(10), 2740-2755.

Barman, S., & Canizares, A. E. (2015). A survey of mass customization in practice. International Journal of Supply Chain Management, 4(1).

Bhogal, K. S., Rick, A. H. I., Pickover, C. A., & Sand, A. R. (2016). U.S. Patent No. 9,256,898. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Chuang, H. H. C., & Oliva, R. (2015). Inventory record inaccuracy: Causes and labor effects. Journal of Operations Management, 39, 63-78.

Dennis, P. (2016). Lean Production simplified: A plain-language guide to the world's most powerful production system. Crc press.

Gao, W., Zhang, Y., Nazzetta, D. C., Ramani, K., & Cipra, R. J. (2015, November). Revomaker: Enabling multi-directional and functionally-embedded 3d printing using a rotational cuboidal platform. In Proceedings of the 28th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software & Technology (pp. 437-446). ACM.

Gebler, M., Uiterkamp, A. J. S., & Visser, C. (2014). A global sustainability perspective on 3D printing technologies. Energy Policy, 74, 158-167.

Hoag, K., & Dondlinger, B. (2015). Vehicular engine design. Springer.

Kalpakjian, S., & Schmid, S. R. (2014). Manufacturing engineering and technology (p. 913). Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA: Pearson.

Lücking, T. H., Sambale, F., Beutel, S., & Scheper, T. (2015). 3D?printed individual labware in biosciences by rapid prototyping: A proof of principle. Engineering in Life Sciences, 15(1), 51-56.

Macdonald, E., Salas, R., Espalin, D., Perez, M., Aguilera, E., Muse, D., & Wicker, R. B. (2014). 3D printing for the rapid prototyping of structural electronics. IEEE Access, 2, 234-242.

Mellor, S., Hao, L., & Zhang, D. (2014). Additive manufacturing: A framework for implementation. International Journal of Production Economics, 149, 194-201.

Paton, K. R., Varrla, E., Backes, C., Smith, R. J., Khan, U., O’Neill, A., ... & Higgins, T. (2014). Scalable production of large quantities of defect-free few-layer graphene by shear exfoliation in liquids. Nature materials, 13(6), 624.

Tseng, M. M., & Hu, S. J. (2014). Mass customization. In CIRP Encyclopedia of Production Engineering (pp. 836-843). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Wang, Z., Zhang, M., Sun, H., & Zhu, G. (2016). Effects of standardization and innovation on mass customization: An empirical investigation. Technovation, 48, 79-86.

Zhang, Q., Lv, X., & Shi, J. (2017, June). Research on inventory sharing model of frequent mining machinery maintenance spare parts. In Industrial Electronics and Applications (ICIEA), 2017 12th IEEE Conference on (pp. 1224-1229). IEEE.

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