3D printing helps in managing capacity ramp-up
3D printing is a useful tool to manage capacity ramp up. Companies build up capacity to meet product demand. Managing the capacity is an art form.
Most companies build up capacity with the expectation of using it in full. Yet, market demand can be a mixed bag. Demand can go up due to several factors including:
- Adoption cycle
- Product promotion
- Seasonal trends
- Trade cycles
- Marketing campaigns, etc.
- Competition strategies.
Production capacity is not easy to scale up. In traditional manufacturing, several factors of production need to go up to increase capacity. These will include machinery, assembly areas, operators and a larger factory footprint.
These resources are quite expensive. They also have long lead times. They are also fixed in nature. Which means once you build them up, it is not easy to scale back.
3D printing offers an easier alternative to ramp up capacity. It starts with outsourcing some part of the production to 3D printing houses. Or the company can choose to install their own 3D printers to augment capacity.
Where the company chooses to have in-house capacity, fixed costs do not rise to a great extent. In normal business trends, these printers can take care of engineering and prototyping applications. They can also be used to explore niche markets.
When there is sudden demand during peak loads, 3D printers can be put to use for scaling up. Other factors of production do not have to go up with the scale of production.
3D printing may not be able to be as cost effective as traditional production, for large volumes. However it is flexible. 3D printing can help to meet peak demand in the case on upturns. It can also reduce impact on fixed costs, in non-peak periods.
Thus 3D printing can provide the ability to stay flexible and be able to meet sudden spikes in demand. Scaling becomes more practical with 3D printing.