The impact of 3D printing on ERP manufacturing systems

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A few months ago we spoke of 3D printers in terms of the engines of the next industrial revolution. In this regard, we resume the discussion on the future of these printers. In short, it will advance towards the democratization of this technology. In fact, they are already available not only for large companies, but for anyone interested. While they are now producing small items (toys, shoes, etc.), they are expected to suit almost any industry. As an example, a Chinese businessman has started to make houses with a huge 3D printer in just 24 hours.

You can learn more about this entrepreneur’s project in this news:

http://www.eleconomista.es/tecnologia/noticias/5710807/04/14/Un-empresario-chino-empieza-a-fabricar-viviendas-con-impresoras-3D.html

3D printers are already common in our lives and that is a fact. It seems that the trend is precisely what we discussed in a previous article some months ago: instead of products, we will end up importing and exporting designs and we will go to the shops to have these designs printed.

This creates endless business opportunities, not only in terms of manufacturing new products, but also in the area of maintenance and spare parts, for instance. 3D printing will eventually revolutionize stocks as well. The speed of these machines will allow you to print parts and products according to the needs and capacity of each company, thus reducing product storage needs and optimizing stock management. All we will need to do is print the parts or products when needed. We are in for a truly ‘just in time’ experience!

One of the biggest challenges we face at the moment is to adapt 3D printing to the ERP systems (enterprise resource planning systems) and be ready for the impact it will have. Taking into account this new reality and its needs, 3D printing has to be integrated with the company’s products, as well as in manufacturing and data management systems. However, this is an extraordinary scenario that includes multiple and diverse fields, ranging from engineering and design to manufacturing or, as I said, its integration with the distribution systems, ERP, and even PLM (product lifecycle management).

But if we focus on ERP systems, there is a concrete reality: all manufacturers using 3D printing require that their ERP manufacturing software be adjusted to it, since monitoring and maintaining records of each article or piece has become more important than ever.

It is true that stocks are reduced. Yet, organizations need an accurate forecast that allows knowing at all times the amount of raw materials that will be consumed and the use given to each 3D printing machine.

Speed will be essential in the future. Thus, in recent months there has been much talk on Carbon3D, announced in several specialized media as the fastest 3D printer in the market. Its printing speed, well above the average, has been possible thanks to the 3D printing technology it is based on, called CLIP (Continuous Liquid Interface Production). It uses liquid resin as the raw material, an ultraviolet laser solidifies the photosensitive resin and uses oxygen to dramatically accelerate the process of solidification.

You can see it in action in this video:

These are just some of the challenges organizations will face. But, as the use of 3D printers is increasingly common and widespread, I’m sure other challenges will come up that we can’t even imagine now.

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