The business of 3D printing: visibility, efficiency, and cost recovery

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Writing about 3D printing’s potential is so easy. It’s objectively cool – design for additive manufacturing (DFAM), multicolor, printing on the International Space Station – all of it. Thing is, right now, printing doesn’t really need any more “cool.” What it needs is accountability. Not the illusion of accountability, but real accountability – the kind that comes from actual data behind each and every claim of machine performance.

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Why?

Because how the heck are you supposed to make a case to the bean counters when you don’t have any real visibility into printer operations? Quick. How many jobs did you run last year? Ballpark isn’t good enough to justify a six-figure expenditure to the CFO.

And if you do have an exact number at the ready, how easy was it to get that number? My guess is not very.

But what if you could find that number easily? What if you could just pop into an application to queue up prints or get updates on printer availability and status? Wouldn’t it be nice to have something that effortlessly cranked out reports on your printer operations? Wouldn’t that help you do your job better and save you some time?

Bean counters love to count beans. Numbers in reports are the next best thing. Give them that, and now you can justify increased investment in 3D printing next year.

In a world where presentations that explain how to justify the cost of a 3D printer are gobbled up by user group attendees, it’s kind of weird that no one’s working on making the engineer’s relationship with the finance department easier.

No one until now, that is.

You’re an engineer, of course you love efficiency

You know what’s easier than writing about innovative design? Writing about efficiency. No engineer on the planet is all that interested in an awesome design if the manufacturing process wastes a ton of material or doesn’t even try to batch process.

So if that’s true, why are we tolerating so many manual 3D printing processes? Why is it so difficult to get access to basic business intelligence data? BI exists nearly everywhere else, what’s so special about 3D printing? Furthermore, why is it so difficult to coordinate print jobs and ensure that the entire build tray is in use where appropriate? Are we really ok with emailing requests to a machine operator who then has to keep all of the scheduling and geometry variables in her head? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

But not as crazy as having to physically look at the printer to check the status of a print. I like poking fun at the industrial webcam as much as the next guy, but at least it saves someone a trip to the office on a Saturday. But shouldn’t the print software offer a “go/no go” view that you can check from the couch, the lawn mower, or soccer practice?

Making the business side easier so you can focus on printing

The more time you spend pulling together operations numbers that affect the budget, the less time you spend helping internal clients get the prints they need. Or the less time you spend at home with your family.

That’s crazy. It is 2016. You should be able to see business critical data, in real time, from almost anywhere.

Use the data to track your printer and material usage. Calculate real time expenditures by print, project, team, and business unit. See the data you need to manage and recover your costs.

It’s common sense stuff. We get it. And we’re working on it. Stay with us.

 


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Source: grabcad The business of 3D printing: visibility, efficiency, and cost recovery
3D PRINTING

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