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Advantages of Additive Manufacture in the Supply Chain

Updated: Oct 11, 2022

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The additive manufacture (AM) (also known as 3d printing) of components is growing in importance as businesses strive for shorter supply chains and the ability to produce lower volumes of products quickly and efficiently. Where once it was necessary to have large minimum orders for parts that were machined or cast, additive manufacture now allows for the production of small numbers of parts quickly and at low cost. This flexibility is a key advantage in the current manufacturing landscape, where businesses must be able to respond quickly to changing customer needs.

The perfect storm has arisen, to disrupt the manufacturing supply chain, especially here in the UK. With recent changes to UK logistics as a consequence of Brexit, rising freight costs from the far east, and extended lead times as an aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, UK businesses are struggling to cope with the disruption on their supply chain networks. The complex globalised supply networks that companies have built over the years are under more strain than ever before, which is ultimately forcing businesses to reconsider and reconfigure.

Many companies are looking to reshore manufacture from the far east (and EU in the case of the UK) in order to reduced lead times, cut down the increased shipping costs and avoid import duties. For the first time, companies are able to produce product at home more competitively than sourcing abroad and shipping.

This reshoring movement presents an exciting opportunity for additive manufacture in the UK, as companies can not only take advantage of the localisation of manufacture but the other unique advantage of AM.

Advantages of AM in the supply chain:

  • Flexibility on design and quantity- components can be ordered in small batches, little and often, which also allows for any design tweaks. No expensive and lengthy tooling to change design.

  • Just in time delivery- components can be turned around within days and delivered when they are needed, preventing delay in the manufacturing and assembly process.

  • Cut out expensive parts storage- with just in time delivery and small batch ordering available, there is no need to store high quantities of stock, improving cash flow and cutting down on expensive warehouse costs.

  • Plug temporary component shortages- AM can be used in conjunction with existing manufacture, or can be used temporarily when parts are hard to source, making your supply chain dynamic and quick to adapt.

At Hatch we have helped multiple companies through the process of reconfiguring the supply chain by reverse engineering current short supply components and providing AM solutions to allow their supply chain to run smoothly.

If you're interested in using our services, contact us here.

For more about the services we offer, visit our 3d printing, reverse engineering and product design pages.


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