Back in 2012, there were a lot of inflated expectations regarding the role that metal 3D printing would soon play in medical device manufacturing. Matt Sand is a product of that hype cycle because it was around that time that he, as an entrepreneur, started getting excited about the possibilities of 3D printing. Today, Sand is a co-founder and president of 3DEO.
3DEO, Inc., a metal 3D printed part provider based in Los Angeles, has announced it is increasing its production capability over twofold for the first quarter of 2019. The expansion for 3DEO comes as a response to greater customer demand, with the company experiencing significant growth in 2018, its second full year of operation.
By extending the boundaries of the on-demand production concept, additive manufacturing is changing supply chains in many industries.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of 3D printing over conventional techniques is flexibility. Because unit quantity, complexity, and labor inputs account for a relatively small percentage of final part cost, 3D printing facilities—especially in production—play by a different set of rules. Thanks to its flexibility, additive manufacturing can be reactive to business cases in a way that traditional methods just can’t. The adaptive, on-demand production of parts has the potential to reshape the way many manufacturers do business.
3D printing has often been portrayed as a natural complement to injection molding. After all, injection molding is a high-leverage manufacturing process where extremely high tooling costs are offset by low unit costs at high volumes. Additive manufacturing (AM), particularly where metals are concerned, has presented the balancing value proposition with tooling and setup costs representing a relatively low figure in comparison to the steep per-part variable costs. However, innovation in these two fields has presented an intriguing combination of the technologies: using AM technology to produce molds and mold inserts.
The pace of technological growth and change is higher today than perhaps at any other point in human history. Blockchain, artificial intelligence, augmented/virtual reality—the list of potentially revolutionary breakthroughs now at our fingertips is long and growing. Of all the promising nascent technologies out there, however, none is closer to bringing real change to the way we live and work than additive manufacturing.
Few categories of manufactured goods are as well-suited to 3D printing’s strength as surgical devices. The coming years will prove that clearly.
The swift and continuous improvement of 3D printing systems over the past few years has brought the technology into the mainstream like never before. Technical improvements in printers themselves and growing public awareness have fed off one another to facilitate rising adoption rates across all sectors. As more industries recognize the potential of additive manufacturing to redefine their processes, 3D printing’s share of the total manufacturing market should continue to swell. Still—and this applies particularly to metal AM—the technique is a better fit for some applications than others.
A close look at the variables that determine final part cost reveals that additive manufacturing can be an efficient solution for many medtech applications—but only if approached correctly.
3D printing has left behind its days as an obscure, fledgling technology of dubious real-world value. In nearly all corners of the modern manufacturing environment, additive manufacturing (AM) is now recognized as a powerful manufacturing technology, particularly when it comes to complex designs and streamlining the supply chain. Still, the perception lingers that 3D printing is impractical for most companies, at least from a cost perspective.
"3D printing is a real passion for me".
Marty McGough is an innovative operations executive and process improvement professional with more than 20 years of hands-on experience applying Lean Startup and Continuous Improvement techniques to manufacturing, product design, cost reduction, system enhancement, and customer satisfaction problems for high-tech companies. He has personally introduced more than 31 products that generated over $1.1 billion in sales with gross margins of up to 45%. He has engaged in five successful scaling or turnaround efforts with companies of various sizes.
3DEO’s President, Matt Sand, will be speaking at the upcoming MD&M West conference; a must-attend event for any medtech professional. The conference is in Anaheim, CA on February 5-7, and is the largest three-day medtech conference in North America.