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3D printing, a supply chain challenge – Air Cargo News – Air Cargo News

by • July 28, 2016 • No Comments

Panalpina’s strategic partnership with 3D printing specialist Shapeways is one additional step in a march towards digital making that can challenge donate chain suppliers, that include air cargo.
In May this year, software company SAP signed an agreement with UPS to collaborate to alter the ad hoc world of industrial 3D printing into a “seamless, on-demand making system of order through making and delivery”.
But only where are we in the development timeline of 3D innovation, otherwise known as additive making, and what is the immediate challenge for airfreight?
In the aerospace industry, additive printing is may already bringing place for sure aircraft components.
At the Farnborough International Airshow, SAP signed a co-innovation agreement with APWorks, a subsidiary of Airbus Defence and Space, that aims to “accelerate the adoption and standardisation of industrial 3D printing initiatives for the aerospace and defense industry”.
According to both SAP and APWorks: “3D printing is now moving beyond industrial prototyping and into making industries via multiple materials that include metals, plastics and ceramics, that is helping to reinvent the making donate chain.”
SAP can extend its donate chain solutions to include collaboration and certification cloud service for industrial 3D printing, as well as an on-demand 3D printing making network.
Torsten Welte, global head of aerospace and defense industry at SAP, said: “Innovation in on-demand 3D printing is now revolutionising traditional making. In the following few years 3D printing can be widely adopted across making industries.
“The aerospace and defense market can alter digitally to strive to complete near-zero unplanned downtime on commercial flights as well as assist high production turnaround at a lower cost.
“What makes 3D printing most gorgeous in aerospace is the removal of most costs synonymous with traditional making like stocking inventory. Users are enabled to print the parts they require, as requireed.”
Joachim Zettler, chief executive of APWorks, said: “The skill to 3D print all the possible components of an A350 aircraft may reduce the mass of it by just about a ton.”
Air Cargo News met with Torsten Welte and Tobias Hauk, technical sales manager with APWorks.
Asked whether 3D printing innovation on the market now was close to making an iPhone, for example, Welte said: “No, a few of those high end innovation items are way too complex in terms of electrical circuits and things like that.
“But what is coming, for example, is that if the door knob on your kitchen unit breaks and you can scan it or take a picture of it, and so a fewbody can 3D print it locally.”
Welte introduced that air cargo executives can be reassured that, at present: “3D printing farms can not all of a sudden pop up, for the reason those kinds of investments are fairly high”.
The entry cost for sophisticated, multi-material 3D printing units are beyond the means of the man in the street to buy one. Said Hauk: “You have to invest in research and development. It is not only a question of printing a fewthing, you have to know the systemes.”
Department keep 3D units are, at present, limited to single material printing equipment and unable to handle a fewthing that has multiple materials.
But with makes it to in innovation, and with companies like Shapeways pushing the barriers, a few high value air cargo volumes may be at risk.
Welte said that air cargo executives require to take 3D printing seriously: “It is a new innovation, it is changing behaviour and it is changing market models.
“That is why SAP and APWorks are talking as two partners. We have the making capabilities and we have the technologies to facilitate communication between whoever wants it and whoever creates it.”


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