While the term “on-demand manufacturing” may seem fairly broad it has actually revolutionised the way in which small, medium and large sized companies are able to operate. Whether creating a prototype, ordering a relatively small number of specific items or instigating a huge batch of components required on a tight timescale, on-demand manufacturing is a game changer.
The use of 3-D printing equipment, laser cutting technology, CAD/CAM and the latest customisable equipment has taken this particular industry to a whole new level. There are a number of factors to take into consideration whether creating the latest cool prototype or simply running a large batch of predesigned items, which include:
Simple cost modelling
Utilising the latest computer technology, collating cost data from previous projects and an ability to source the highest quality materials at the best price has significantly reduced costs compared to years gone by. The previously long drawnout process associated with creating a prototype has gone, replaced by a fluid, interactive, real-time cost modelling system which can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection.
Faster time to market
We live in a world where every second counts, being one step ahead of the competition can make or break a company and on-demand manufacturing has changed future prospects for many companies. The ability to create prototypes and instigate large product runs using the latest CNC machining technology to control 3-D printers and high-tec laser cutting machines has reduced lead times to a fraction of years gone by. It is important to recognise that quality has not been compromised with the new modern day on-demand manufacturing systems with major improvements as a consequence of advances in technology.
Flexible design options
The ability to tweak and change flexible design options in real time ensures that all prototypes are perfected as soon as possible but in a controlled manner. The design trail allows you to look back at previous tweaks, improve future components and monitor changes on the finished prototype – invaluable when seeking a quick turnaround. On-demand manufacturing companies are able to turnaround extremely complicated prototypes in a very short space of time using a database of ever growing information.
Cash flow is vital in any business and the return from stock remaining on storehouse shelves is diminishing every day. The ability to create products on-demand has to all intents and purposes reduced the need for major product inventory levels. As the bulk of the manufacturing process is automated, using the latest highly efficient machinery, turnaround times have been slashed. This also allows some variation on base products which can, if utilised correctly, even further enhance customer satisfaction.
In years gone by the creation of a prototype could take weeks if not months to bring to fruition. Even the most detailed of design plans would take time to put into action, with further time required to source appropriate materials and eventually create the prototype. Automation of the design and manufacturing process coupled with extremely agile and flexible modern day technology has reduced lead times from the initial prototype design to delivery.
Companies today have seen significant cost reductions in the creation of prototypes and small, medium or large component runs. Order delivery times have been slashed which ensures that products are available to the market much quicker than years gone by, offering advantages over the competition not to mention positive cash flow. While the larger corporations, with their enormous research and development funding, have benefited from on-demand manufacturing, this has also opened up new opportunities for many small to medium-sized operations with smaller budgets and tighter cash flow.
Like the introduction of the Internet, on-demand manufacturing has allowed small to medium-sized companies to challenge larger corporations in so many different areas.