Whether it is a toy or a hair clip, creating a product is a complicated process involving many people and just as many resources. In the past this meant hiring designers, engineers, a company to do the molding and eventually a manufacturer. If you are a small business with a great idea, you can see how the cost and process can be discouraging. But today, as in almost every industry in the world, digital technology is giving the little guy the same opportunity in manufacturing as large enterprises thanks to 3D printing.
3D Printing On Demand
Recognizing the growth potential of this technology, UPS started offering 3D printing on demand in the company’s stores in 2013. As Michelle Van Slyke, vice president of marketing and small business solutions at The UPS Store said at the time “Start-ups, entrepreneurs and small business owners may not have the capital to purchase a 3D printer on their own, but they may have a need to show prototypes to their current and potential customers.”
This initiative by UPS made the manufacturing process available to even more people and businesses, removing virtually every barrier. The company has gone a step further with a new announcement to simplify the entire industrial manufacturing process by entering into an agreement with SAP for an end-to-end industrial solution. Everything from digitization, certification, order-to-manufacturing and delivery can now be accessed under one roof
The process begins by going to the Fast Radius website and placing your 3D printing on demand order. Based on the requirements of the item, it will be directed to the closest UPS Store location in the U.S. This means you can get a prototype as fast as the same day, again depending on the complexity of the item. Although the service is for stores located in the U.S., customers can use the global UPS network to place an order and have it shipped to their location.
This agreement between UPS and SAP will give businesses, students, inventors, engineers, designers and hobbyist the ability to create high quality rapid prototypes without the cost of mold or tooling of traditional manufacturing. Initial product runs can be launched with a few items to gauge the market and quickly make adjustments on the fly, which is impossible to do the same day with the old process.
Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing as it is more commonly known, is growing at an impressive rate. According to a new MarketsandMarkets research report, the 3D printing market is slated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 28.5 percent between 2016 and 2022 to $30.19 billion. With this type of growth, small businesses can start providing solutions anywhere in the lifecycle of the technology and take advantage of the opportunities the segment will continue to deliver for the foreseeable future.
With the accessibility UPS provides to 3D on demand printing and SAPs enterprise application software, companies of any size will be able to access the full range of manufacturing capability with the touch of a button and get their products to market faster than ever before.