By Mike Cady, Americas Director with Markforged
Last year, manufacturing vulnerabilities were exposed and supply chain stress became a household conversation. Toilet paper was suddenly out of stock and Amazon packages took more than the usual day to arrive on doorsteps.
To fill the gaps and maintain operations, many manufacturers turned to industrial 3D printing.
Once a buzzword or hobbyist activity, 3D printing has now become a powerful technology that, following the many use cases that unfolded as a result of pandemic-induced challenges, has created an incredible turning point for the manufacturing industry.
Setting the Pace with Project DIAMOnD
Take, for example, Project DIAMOnD, a government-funded emergency-response network established by Michigan’s Industry 4.0 knowledge center Automation Alley to equip manufacturers with the technology they need to be resilient amid COVID-19, while enabling on-demand printing for future emergency situations. With 3D printers in their hands, participants in the project can, for example, print personal protective equipment (PPE) immediately upon request by the Michigan government.
Additionally, the manufacturers can use the printers to create parts that are critical for everyday operations, such as tooling and fixtures that break on the production line. The ability to print parts for the manufacturing floor enables the manufacturers to remain resilient in the face of future supply chain disruptions.
Poised to become the world’s largest emergency-response network for printing physical objects on demand, Project DIAMOnD is setting the standard for what’s truly possible in the future of manufacturing. The project began in early 2021, when Automation Alley and Markforged distributed the first wave of 3D printers to more than 200 manufacturers, such as CAM Logic and Avon Machining. Each printer connects to the cloud, operated by Automation Alley and the Michigan government.
As demonstrated by Project DIAMOnD, having a large emergency-response network that provides objects immediately on demand is critical in times of crisis.3D printing has endless potential and the advancements we’ve seen over the last year are just the beginning.
Additive manufacturing gives manufacturers the power to find unique, effective ways to do business and enables them to pivot and remain agile amid turbulent times, which will help them recover from the pandemic and allow them to have a reliable system in place for future emergencies.
As manufacturers are being forced to accelerate digital-transformation efforts to keep business not only surviving, but thriving, 3D printing has proven itself to be an incredible tool for the job.