How 3D printing is transforming the production line during coronavirus pandemic?

Europe is now the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. Production has slowed down dramatically, more and more consortia and factories are making decisions to stop work completely. This is not just a global health crisis, it is also a worldwide economic crisis.

How 3D printing can transform the production line during coronavirus pandemic?

Europe is now the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. Production has slowed down dramatically, more and more consortia and factories are making decisions to stop work completely. This is not just a global health crisis, it is also a worldwide economic crisis.

Broken supply chain due to SARS-CoV-2

The COVID-19 pandemic causes disruptions in the logistics and supply chain, this in turn results in a shortage of components and a lack of parts necessary for production. In many factories, especially in Spain and Italy, where the number of cases is now the highest, there is a shortage of employees.

The world economy is a widely connected system. Today, when we are all struggling with the coronavirus epidemic, business is slowing down, getting ready for recession. The borders are closed, transport is limited. According to the International Labor Organization, unemployment could increase by 5.3 million as a result of the impending crisis. And this is an optimistic scenario.

The global economy will not get quickly back on its feet, especially if outbreaks will appear in different places at different times, not to mention the possible return of the coronavirus to China. Manufacturers must be prepared that access to spare parts will be difficult for a long time.
Karol Kula, Global Sales Director, 3DGence

Suspended production, problems with deliveries

Coronavirus may ruin the automotive industry. This sector depends on orders from foreign factories that have stopped production. Volkswagen has suspended work at the plants in Poznań, Swarzędz and Września, the PSA, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Renault factories are closed, Michelin has stopped production at the factory in Olsztyn, Toyota –  closes the majority of factories in Europe, which are producing cars, engines and transmissions. These are just examples from the automotive industry, but also furniture factories, shipping companies and many others are not working.

In Italy, all workplaces are closed except those necessary for the functioning of the state. Meanwhile, the top four countries from which Poland imports the most are Germany, China, Russia and Italy. The supply of goods, including components for further production, must suffer in such conditions.

How 3D printing can help manufacturing companies?

Additive manufacturing technology has been used in industrial companies around the world for years. The mere application of this technology in production processes is therefore nothing new. The areas where this technology is now entering are new. Maybe it’s a good time for companies to try to use 3D printing in their production, even as a test.

1. 3D printed spare parts as an alternative if the supplier fails

Closed borders, difficulties in logistics and staffing shortages are all the causes of slowed production today. The resulting losses cannot be completely avoided, but we can try to minimize them by using technologies available on site such as 3D printing. 

2. Maintaining the production line

Now that many industries have been cut off from foreign supplies, the use of a industrial 3D printer in an organization can help maintain production continuity. Electrolux also uses printed parts, Panasonic used 3D printing in the production process of their TV and Hoover manufactures vacuum cleaner accessories in this way.

Get the 3D printed parts you need just in time

The prototype of fire engine's manifold 3D printed with ABS material on industrial 3D printer 3DGence INDUSTRY F340
3D printed manifold with ABS material for fire truck
3D printing of a positive mold - e-bike
3D printed prototype of a patient monitor

3. Producing end-use parts

Increasingly, we observe situations in which spatial prints become elements of finished products, not just their prototypes. What’s more, 3D printing is now able to use materials, such as ULTEM or PEEK, allowing parts to be exposed to really heavy loads, thanks to which this technology meets the industry requirements. For large consortia it can successfully be the most optimal solution in the production of end-use parts and dealing with logistic barriers.

4. Reducing costs of production

Until recently, 3D printing technology in industry was mainly used in the process of rapid prototyping of models. Today, 3D printers are used to support production processes, make functional parts or necessary tools cheaper.

3D printing not only accelerates the production of new products, e.g. missing components. Its major advantage is also shortening the production time and reducing its costs. At a time when companies that manufacture components by traditional methods are closed and transport from China is blocked, this form of production seems to be the most effective.

Consult your project with 3D printing experts

3D printing - medicine for lack of foreign supplies

Not so long ago, 3D printing was seen as another technological novelty. Today, the use of 3D printers really is an alternative to conventional production methods. By using this technology, it is possible to print spare parts for machinery used in factories, ready-made components for cars, planes and bicycles. There are many examples of components made in this way. It is worth paying attention to prototype prints from ABB – a leader in technologies for energy, robotics and powertrain, industrial automation and energy networks.

3D printing technologies today is used in almost every industry: automotive, aviation, electrotechnical or household appliances. Its undoubted advantage is the ability to use a wide range of technical materials such as ULTEM, PEEK or PEKK. Parts, printed from these filaments will have very high mechanical properties as well as resistance to chemicals and high temperatures. In fact, industrial 3D printers such as 3DGence INDUSTRY F420 are already within the reach of almost every Polish manufacturer, not just large and international companies.
Radosław Wróbel, 3D Printing Application Engineer at 3DGence

Final price of 3D printing vs. traditional production

Moreover, especially in times of economic slowdown, the final price of the element printed on a 3D printer is often much lower than in the case of traditional production processes. As a result, it is able to guarantee the company profit and quick return on investment.

Companies, not convinced that 3D prints are able to replace parts produced by traditional methods, can check it by ordering the printing of the first items to specialized entities. For example, the 3D Services have a well-functioning machine park and experts who will advise, prompt and finally print the necessary elements for a specific order. By taking advantage of new technologies, it will be easier for companies to go through the difficult times of coronavirus pandemic. 3D Services provide help and knowledge, because only joint actions will allow us to face the current situation.​

3D printing supports the global industry

Perhaps 3D printing is not yet able to fully replace traditional production, but in this difficult situation that we have today, it is worth using its possibilities. With the help of 3D technology, an entrepreneur can fill shortages in supply and resume or continue production, thus providing jobs and having a positive impact on the state of the economy.

How to choose industrial 3D printer for company?

Industrial 3D printer can be a complementary machine that will support traditional manufacturing processes. Choosing a proer machine that will suit your needs is not an easy task. Those type of machines should be equipped with the actively heated chamber, should 3D print with the high-performance materials such as PEEK. What is more, crucial is also high print speed, that allow you to produce very fast end-use parts. If you would like to know more what industrial 3D printer will be proper for your company, you can consult with 3D printing experts: [email protected]

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