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Technology

We have less time for developing new products than ever before. Meanwhile new technologies are enabling us to get our ideas to the market more quickly. Related solutions are for instance 'rapid product development' (RPD), 'additive manufacturing' (AM) and 'virtual prototyping' (VP). And integral implementations of 'product lifecycle management' (PLM).

Some people think: those not being 'rapid' will arrive too late or not at all. Is it over exaggerating ? Not quite, because when looking at the facts we will find the first ones not being able to fight the competition. These did not have a look at the new opportunities at all or have put them aside wrongfully.

Additive manufacturing and 3D printing

So we have to produce faster. Fortunately the latest technological developments are quite accessible. For instance 'rapid prototyping' (RP). With 'rapid prototyping' we can rapidly create prototypes varying from simple 3D sketches to fully 'functional' prototypes. By RP we can easily and quickly obtain important information related to the commercial chances of a design. And we can prevent ourselves from doing expensive modifications later during the development process or even after the market introduction. So less risks are involved. Also we can create our tools by 'rapid tooling' (RT) and last but not least we can manufacture parts and simple assemblies at once by 'rapid manufacturing' (RM).

Layer manufacturing technologies

The solutions presented in the previous paragraphs are based on one concept. A computer controlled system builds objects by adding material. In the end the desired shape remains. You can create parts by printing them. You send your 3D CAD model from your PC to an apparatus like you use for putting text on paper with a text processor and a laser printer. The machine fixes grain (plastic, metal, ceramic) or hardens a liquid locally. Usually it is done layer by layer. The interconnection will only be within the contour of the desired workpiece. The layer thickness is usually about 0,1mm and sometimes (much) more as well as less. This is called 'layer manufacturing technologies' (LMT).

Mass customization

'Stereolithography'(SL), 'selective laser sintering'(SLS), 'fused deposition modelling'(FDM) and '3D printing'(3DP) are only a few examples having their specific benefits, disadvantages and costs. Also there are various other developments with practical values, for instance in the field of CAD/CAM, scanning ('reverse engineering' en 'forward engineering') and materials as well as hybrid solutions. One of the most important advantages of 'additive manufacturing' is that it enables the manufacturer to create products to the individual needs of his clients because no (expensive) tools are needed obligating the manufacturer loads of exactly the same product.

Product lifecycle management

By applying the latest technologies one is able to get the desired results in less time than before. By now product development and the realisation of small quantities of complex structures gain from the variety of the latest solutions. Because of this the number of applications of Rapid Technologies is increasing exponentially. However this phenomenon should not be evaluated without involving some other developments. Before we discussed 'mass customization'. Also the importance of 'product lifecycle management' (PLM) is increasing. This is because creating products more rapidly results in handling more information at the same time. Natural we should link all sources and register the processes based on its lifecycle.

Implementation

These solutions require a minimum implementation level, usually more than we realise. With 'rapid prototyping' things are rather simple. However 'rapid manufacturing' requires you design, test and even sell your products differently. And there is 'mass customization' to consider as well.

From time to time you should evaluate your situation. Are you still on the right track? SOLide can help you. And when you consider 'additve manufacturing' you also can ask SOLide for help.

The SOLide's consultants help companies to increase the efficiency of their product and production development and to create new business models, based on thorough analyses, advice, coaching, training and co-management.