This is how distributed production and 3D printing can contribute during the Covid-19 crisis

Covid-19 has affected the world in a way never seen before. The pandemic has shown how a crisis can shake society and the economy globally.

This is how distributed production and 3D printing can contribute during the Covid-19 crisisBut the situation has also contributed valuable insight into how technology and collaboration can make a difference. Additive manufacturing (AM) can help companies and communities meet the challenges – in both the short and long term.

AM technology increases the flexibility of manufacturing and production processes, reducing dependence on global supply chains and logistics costs. Additive manufacturing, or industrial 3D printing, can be used quickly and in several different ways to produce necessary components, even during crises, as the following example from the healthcare industry shows.

Medical technology and safe, reliable production
Just like many other industries, medical technology has moved the production of components, or whole products, to areas with lower labor costs. During a pandemic, the weaknesses of this strategy become apparent, as dependence on global supply chains can create major bottlenecks. To meet the growing need for important medical products, many countries and companies have had to turn to local manufacturers and alternative manufacturing technologies such as industrial 3D printing. Today it is mainly about products such as visors, eye protection, respirators and nose sticks. There is still an urgent need to be able to design new medical devices that are reliable and can be easily mass-produced via 3D printing.

In Australia, for example, 3D Printing Studios partnered with government and health authorities to quickly produce medical nose and throat sticks for Covid-19 test kits. Additive manufacturing made it possible to create a flexible design and ensure rapid evaluation of the nostrils, reducing the time it took to develop the products and test them. The industrial 3D printing system EOS P 396 was chosen to manufacture the nose sticks, as the powder-based technology proved to be the most cost-effective compared to other additive manufacturing technologies. The printer, as the global AM technology company EOS stood behind, offered such high productivity that 5,000 nose sticks could be produced per day.

Opportunities for change
The example shows the potential of distributed production with 3D printing. For the future, it is an important knowledge that this strategy works not only during crises, but also in the long term. Industrial 3D printing can be used to achieve demand-based production, create more efficient processes and strengthen the logistics chain. Products can also be improved or renewed, regardless of complexity, function or construction. Combining industrial 3D printing with digital production structures that link systems together globally, you achieve the highest possible levels of visibility, reliability and performance.

In summary, industrial 3D printing can be used to optimize the inventory of components and spare parts and accelerate the development of new products. The ongoing crisis offers companies new opportunities: All companies are affected, but those who act now may come out on the other side – stronger than their competitors. Additive manufacturing is a factor in success and an important asset for a more digitally based post-covid world.

By: Markus Glasser, Senior Vice President EMEA, EOS.

Source: IT-Kanalen by

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