Updated: Aug 14
Reading Time: 3 minutes
In a traditional large-scale manufacturing setting, the supply chain can take months and a sizable investment extending to millions of dollars. The only way to recoup this investment is by high-volume production. Additive Manufacturing, however, removes many of the intermediate steps in the supply chain. You can create large-scale Additive Manufacturing opportunities that are cost-efficient and profitable.
Additive manufacturing - From Prototype to Production
Rapid prototyping allows you to quickly gauge a product’s proof of concept. It can increase your speed to market by faster acceptance and reducing the number of parts needed, thereby reducing time ordering and waiting for arrival or supplies. It’s common in AM to drastically reduce the number of discrete parts. For example, this antenna system went from 100 pieces to one integrated assembly, reduced the cost of parts by 20-25%, and reduced lead time from eleven months to two months. AM saves on procurement, fabrication of subcomponents, and labor.
Large-scale Additive Manufacturing also works best when there’s a lean planning strategy in place from the beginning. This can help bring products from design to production more efficiently through small iterations and mock-ups until the client is satisfied. Using a Build / Measure / Learn (BLM) loop, improvements can be made quickly with AM to get things to the full production stage.
Any large-scale production requires strict control over specifications and fabrication. In large-scale Additive Manufacturing, it’s even more critical. Errors can be incredibly costly due to more waste and scrap, lost production time, and increased lead times.
Yet, it’s a solvable problem. An MES/QMS software solution is designed for the shop floor and provides complete end-to-end control of the entire production process.
Managing the Additive Manufacturing Production Process Efficiently managing large-scale Additive Manufacturing means balancing automation and customization.
One of the advantages of AM is the ability to use complex and irregular geometries and nested parts to create integrated and intricate configurations. This same advantage can make it challenging to manage AM build volume. Large-scale Additive Manufacturing means building volumes that are packed effectively, which involves using finely-tuned algorithms that integrate with your systems and equipment.
Production Volume and Repeatability
Production volume and repeatability have traditionally been concerns within large-scale Additive Manufacturing. If you are unable to produce consistent quality at scale, it will be nearly impossible to do AM cost-effectively. However, the right MES/QMS solution will enable consistent repeatability in production. This provides better quality assurance while reducing scrap and rework.
Workflow automation software can help by prioritizing similar products in back-to-back manufacturing to limit the number of customization changes between products and improve streamlining.
A Connected Workflow Is Crucial
Using a connected workflow and standardization in large-scale Additive Manufacturing allows you to increase speed in production runs in a controlled manner. This process also avoids disconnected workflows that lead to undiscovered flaws or scrapped products. When systems can talk to each other, it eliminates extra steps and human intervention. Software such as Bluestreak | Bright AM tracks raw and processed materials, parts and pieces, and production teams while integrating with existing software for real-time data and traceability.
How the Right MES/QMS Solves Problems in Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing
The right MES/QMS solves many struggles in large-scale Additive Manufacturing. It starts with better manufacturing production control and workflow management.
Bluestreak | Bright AM is an innovative and extensible real-time MES/QMS Additive Manufacturing software solution that drives quality from office to shop floor. It has the built-in functionality required by AM that other MES, EMS, ERP, and MRP systems lack. It’s the solution of choice for many of the world’s large-scale Additive Manufacturing production facilities.
· Quality management at the operator level
· Cost controls
· Management of nonconforming scrap
· Dispositioning and control of 3D-printed parts
· Serialization on the same build plate
· Dynamic part quantities, including validation
· Real-time splitting and combination tracking
When you’re in the business of large-scale Additive Manufacturing, you need an MES/QMS built for manufacturing. How do you decide which one is right for you?
Companies will make many marketing promises as they try to adapt their software to work in your environment. Bluestreak | Bright AM was built for AM production. When you are evaluating products, you should make your decisions based on a side-by-side comparison of the functions and features that would best fit your business needs.
Once you have the right software solution in place, large-scale Additive Manufacturing can become an efficient and cost-effective way of doing business.
Bluestreak | Bright AM helps service-based manufacturers rid themselves of production floor struggles by giving them real-time traceability of all parts, personnel, and machines. This allows for increased efficiency while reducing scrap and rework.
To find out how Bluestreak | Bright AM can help your Additive Manufacturing business grow, eliminate costly human errors, and lock in your clients, contact Bluestreak | Bright AM today.