How to succeed with additive manufacturing?

April 29, 20244 minute read

Achieving profitability with 3D printing is a longstanding challenge in industrial manufacturing. 

Whether you're a part of a small service bureau or a multinational organization with an inventory of thousands of parts, you already know that 3D printing only makes sense if certain conditions are met. 

First, not every part can be printed. An expert may need to analyze it to determine if it is possible to manufacture with additive technologies. 

Second, there should be a clear financial advantage from 3D printing. Some organizations manage to lower production costs because 3D printing shortens the supply chain and lead time drastically. For organizations with a large warehouse of spare parts, on-demand production makes it possible to reduce the stock and the costs associated with it. It also allows companies to accelerate time-to-market and gain a competitive advantage.  

Companies can further increase profit by running repeat orders. The ability to use invested planning for running and tracing a repeat order boosts your margins significantly. 

Whatever the case, the challenges remain the same: how to identify parts suitable for 3D printing quickly, manufacture them correctly, and make money in the process.  

To address these issues, Oqton collaborates with CASTOR, a company providing a screening solution for identifying parts suitable for 3D printing. By bringing together CASTOR’s screening tool with Oqton’s MES capabilities in the Manufacturing OS and 3DXpert, the companies have created a seamless solution that enables manufacturers to use AM in a cost-effective way. 

Identify AM opportunities, schedule, print and optimize – in one place 

The integration provides companies with one workflow for several stages of manufacturing, from part analysis to printing.  

The process starts in CASTOR, an AI-driven software that can automatically identify suitable parts for AM. It can analyze an entire inventory of parts at once, and tell you which are good candidates. 

After the quick assessment, the tool recommends how to change the design of the part to utilize more of AM’s advantages. It suggests the best opportunities for part consolidation, weight, and carbon emission reduction, and supply chain shortening. The software even analyzes 2D drawings by converting the 2D representation into a 3D model.  

You could do all this work manually, but examining thousands of design files or physical parts could take six months – easily. CASTOR provides the same result in minutes. 

Once you’ve selected a part, Oqton’s software comes into play. The Manufacturing OS  provides a unified user experience for additive manufacturing, from managing orders for parts to scheduling printing and tracing costs.  

You order the part through the customer portal of the Manufacturing OS. The platform’s Digital Catalogue of parts makes it easy to manage a part inventory and capacity, and schedule production orders. After the order has been placed, the Manufacturing OS connects you to 3DXpert where you can carry out build preparation and send the files to print.  

The MES capabilities in the Manufacturing OS allow you to trace the part as it’s being printed with IoT. With monitoring, you can ensure the parts are produced as intended and meet the customers’ requirements, minimizing the material and time used on multiple print iterations. 

Additionally, the MES allows you to qualify parts. The system produces instructions outlining all the production steps so that, in the future, any manufacturer will fabricate the parts in the same way. 

Profitability is a key consideration for any business, and manufacturing industrial parts is no different. With the Manufacturing OS, it’s easy to leverage the data about production to optimize the entire operation. The MES connects the initial cost analysis with actual cost data from your operations to validate the initial projections.  You can compare the estimated time required to print or powder consumption with the actual time and material consumption. 

The ability to seamlessly transition between various stages of the workflow removes a lot of common snags in printing. You can instantaneously know if there is a good business case for printing, polish the design, and start printing on the same day. The result is a simple and smooth AM workflow that any organization can adopt.

Omer Blaier, CASTOR CEO and co-founder, will give a live demo of the solution at the 3DXpert Additive User Group at the Baker Hughes Western Hemisphere Education Center in Houston, TX.  

If you'd like to learn more about the solution, contact an expert.


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