How to select your subcontractors for your parts with additive manufacturing ?

By 5 January 2021January 22nd, 2021No Comments

Additive manufacturing faces several pitfalls. The lack of maturity of the technology in specific sectors, the cost of purchasing machines, or the lack of time allocated for the development of a new activity. Yet it is also an answer for the needs of companies, which are increasingly specific, especially for custom-made parts. Therefore, it is necessary to find an in-between to keep efficiency in design but limit iterations and time invested. To do so, it is necessary to choose between internalizing its 3D parts production or delegating this activity.

So, what are the 3 advantages of selecting subcontractors for the manufacture of parts through additive manufacturing?


Make sure you are no longer limited by a question of means.


According to Advisory and Intelligence, the additive manufacturing market is expected to reach $11 billion by 2022. And while some industries, such as aerospace and aeronautics, are perfectly suited to this technology because they are based on limited production volumes and small batches of spare parts, mass production companies are more limited because they are subject to economies of scale.

R&D departments and Design Offices are sometimes forced to delegate the manufacture of specific parts due to a lack of capital for the purchase of equipment or qualified human resources. Therefore, to outsource the manufacturing of parts using Additive Manufacturing, it is necessary to reference the various existing suppliers and evaluate their capacities to meet the requirements of the specifications (usable processes, parameters, machines, part dimensions, available materials). This first step requires an initial investment but helps to qualify an optimal solution in the choice of a part according to a cost/time/manufacturing process ratio. In the same way, this investment can be found in the choice of a supplier for the post-processing of a part.

The need for a guaranteed return on investment


The search for subcontractors and information on their capacity is difficult. Every year, dozens of new additive manufacturing service companies are created. But it is a business model that is proving more difficult to sustain over time than traditional subcontracting. While the market is booming, the prototyping business is rapidly reaching saturation point and the transition to the subcontracting business is often fatal. Initially, the creation of a relationship of trust with its customers is essential, and this can only be achieved through the incrementation of repeatable processes. But it can also be achieved by obtaining increasingly stringent certifications and accreditations. Finally, the need for responsiveness requires perfect supply chain management, which ultimately forces 3D part manufacturers to think as an industrialist rather than a developer.

Therefore, the selection of a capable subcontractor must be evaluated on its adaptability. Machines are expensive and quickly obsolete, the cost of raw materials is often volatile. Then the selection of a subcontractor allows not to internalize a very expensive production and to delegate to the suppliers the mastery of high level technology that is difficult to amortize in the short to medium term.

Easier identification of suppliers linked to their means of production


As previously mentioned, an initial investment of time is the starting point with the referencing of existing solutions. However, it is necessary to be able to recycle this information and share it, while keeping it up to date with the latest available processes. This is why, the creation of a supplier repository listing the machine park, the usable materials and the processes in force allows a quick evaluation and an optimal selection of a solution. This allows a gain in productivity for companies, and at the same time to develop synergies between manufacturing, assembly and post-processing between different suppliers in a desire to optimize efficiency, leading to cost savings whatever the sector of activity involved.

The company BASSETTI with its Technical Expertise Management is committed implementing methods, tools and IT processes to structure, archive and disseminate this knowledge with high added value within the company.

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