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Turn Post-Brexit supply chain threats into opportunities with Ultimaker 3D printers

The result of recent economic events has demonstrated the vulnerability of our international logistics. Businesses are now assessing new ways to operate and import from the EU. It is said that every crisis presents both opportunities and threats. In this blog, we provide you with the 3D printing solutions to the challenges that Brexit has on the relationship between businesses and their supply chain networks.

Supply chain issues

While the avoidance of a no-deal was a welcome development, the UK's new relationship with the EU presents some challenges for manufacturers. Considerable non-tariff barriers and obstacles are already having an impact on the manufacturing industry. At the end of last year businesses anticipated delays, border checks, and regulations to impact their supply chain networks and now these challenges have come to fruition.

Some of the significant challenges businesses are experiencing include;

  • Availability and delays in the arrival of goods, parts, and raw materials
  • Longer lead times
  • Longer production times
  • Higher costs per item/product produced

Businesses also have to deal with the cost implications of Brexit. Following the transition period between the UK and EU, an agreement was reached allowing originating goods to continue to flow under duty and quota-free conditions after the Brexit transition period ended on December 31, 2020. For Businesses doing business in or with the UK, Brexit created a landslide of trade compliance complications. The UK's new tariff regime - the UK Global Tariff (UKGT) applies to goods imported into the UK. In theory, the UKGT reduces and simplifies tariffs on many goods entering the UK and removes tariffs completely on certain raw materials and other products deemed beneficial to the UK economy. However, many goods that used to be traded duty-free between the UK and EU could be subject to higher tariffs. The new tariff regime may raise the cost of certain goods for UK importers and also increase the administrative costs of complying with new rules and classification codes.

The impact of Brexit on global trade over the next few years is likely to result in:

  • Higher costs for many goods and services
  • Increased import/export costs
  • Higher taxes
  • Border and customs disputes
  • Supply chain shortages and disruptions
  • Shipping delays
  • Business resource allocation issues

3D printing solutions

Trade restrictions have pushed up the costs of parts and raw materials for British manufacturers and some of these manufacturers are considering the potential to bring work back into the UK. Delays in the arrival of goods, parts, and raw materials are one of the biggest side effects of Brexit. Additive manufacturing offers lots of opportunities and can make it possible for businesses to deliver new reshoring opportunities that would bring supply chains closer to home. In-house 3D printing can support business recovery and growth by offering them flexibility. With Ultimaker, businesses can take advantage of a full 3D printing ecosystem, allowing businesses to meet demanding daily production goals.

Manufacturers are reporting higher costs and experiencing greater difficulties with the combination of longer lead and production times associated with delays in the arrival of goods, parts, and raw materials. With these ongoing delays, businesses are looking at alternative ways to source and prevent congestion in the supply chain. One of the knock-on effects of these delays can lead to the end customer having to wait for their product(s) and this could result in losing the customer to a competitor. 3D printing gives businesses the ability to gain manufacturing flexibility and versatility by being able to print onsite. This means that manufacturers can speed up production times through rapid in-house production and reduce lead times. With Ultimakers industrial production 3D printer, the S5 Pro Bundle, businesses can confidently print parts 24/7, boost productivity, and open up additional opportunities for customisation with a wide range of materials to choose from.

3D printing custom parts and tools in-house also promotes a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. This gives manufacturers the power to 3D print problem-solving parts and tools that increase productivity and overall equipment efficiency (OEE). This also introduces a world of customisation and gives businesses the opportunity to involve the customer in the production process, giving businesses a competitive advantage. Manufacturers such as Gerhard Schubert GmbH - the global leader in top-loading packaging machines (TLM) have already demonstrated the effectiveness of using 3D printing for customising tools used for multiple products. Using 3D printing technology has given Schubert more design freedom compared to traditional methods of manufacturing. For example, a tool that consists of more than 200 parts can now be created in a single print, reducing weight and assembly time. Customising these parts for customers has been a huge success but sending them to their clients was time-consuming. To offset this, Schubert created a 3D printing solution that functions as a digital warehouse. Their customers can now select from a wide variety of parts and tools and they can print-on-demand, in-house, so long as they have an Ultimaker 3D printer.

Part of the Ultimaker offering is the Ultimaker Material Alliance and it is one of the reasons that Ultimaker has the most attractive solution on the market. Businesses can access over 150 materials and print profiles through the Ultimaker Marketplace. With access to the Material Alliance program businesses have the flexibility to choose the material that is best suited for the application. Often the materials selected are the same branded material that was originally used to produce the parts and tools. This means companies only need to adapt the process of production, making Ultimaker the preferred solution. By identifying the properties needed for the application manufacturers can print highly complex 3D prints with industrial-grade materials that offer maximum performance and are future-ready. Some of the properties that Ultimaker materials meet include high strength, impact-resistant, ESD safe, composite, flame retardant, flexible and chemical resistance. Having such a versatile range of materials gives manufacturers numerous options and the flexibility to meet the requirements of the parts and tools they are producing.

Companies are experiencing longer delivery times from suppliers and this is causing near stagnant production. As a result, this causes congestion in production lines when goods can’t move to the next stage. Following this staffing downtime and increasing labour costs occur and this is one of the largest sources of lost productivity. With the right 3D printing solution it can help to eliminate congestion in production lines and reduce staff downtime. Ultimaker introduced the Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle in September 2019 as the revolutionary production desktop 3D printer. With an intuitive dual-extrusion system that offers a large build volume, excellent print quality, and is also compatible with a wide range of engineering-grade materials - making it ideal for professional users. There is a lot to consider in the environment where designers, engineers, and businesses look to integrate 3D printing into their workflow. The storage of the filament, the ability to automate production safely in the surrounding environment, are all factors that maximise the many benefits of additive manufacturing. The Ultimaker Material Station offers real innovation within the 3D printing market, its capabilities are one of a kind and provide companies with true 24/7 3D printing. The features of the Material Station include:

  • Reduced operator time
  • Intelligent storage unit for up to 6 filament reels
  • Controls humidity levels with silicone beads to absorb the ambient humidity
  • Front-loading for a simplified reel placement and removal experience
  • NFC recognition that knows the material type/colour and displays on the printer screen and in Cura
  • Filament management: Auto replaces empty spool - ideal for large printsUltimaker material station

The final part that makes up the Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle is the Ultimaker S5 Air Manager, mounted on top of the 3D printer to fully contain the printing process and create a safer overall work environment. Desktop 3D printers are being widely used in businesses, schools, colleges, and universities. If you want to reduce the release of fumes and particles - look no further than the S5 Air Manager. Having a fully enclosed 3D printer has several benefits:

  • Safe to use
  • Wide range of printable materials
  • Better print quality

Ultimaker S5 Air Manager

Manufacturers in all types of industry are being converted to using additive manufacturing technology. However, there is one significant barrier that still prevents businesses from adopting this new technology - the reason for this is the lack of knowledge. Many still use tried-and-tested design and production processes but in this changing world, they need to look for opportunities such as 3D printing to modernise their business processes and stay in line with cutting-edge technology. The other reason is the lack of training for their teams. With 3D printing being a fairly new technology many employees have not been given the opportunities that are now available to many students in the curriculum. Without any training, manufacturers will find it difficult to justify the advantages and values that 3D printing has to offer.

Ultimaker Essentials was introduced at the end of last year and is designed to scale the benefits of 3D printing across organisations with a software subscription that empowers designers and engineers, but that is also dedicated to enterprise stability and control. The software is offered with 3 different annual subscription packages - Light, standard and advanced. What makes this software so advance is the features that are accessible with an Essentials organisational account, this includes:

  • Ultimaker Cura Enterprise - Packaged for deployment, security assessed, offers higher stability, long term support (1 year)
  • Ultimaker Digital Factory - Manage a full remote 3D printing workflow and scale-up productivity with user administration and team sharing within the organisation all protected under a Firewall.
  • Ultimaker Marketplace - Access verified and security assessed plugins with a controlled installation workflow
  • Ultimaker Support - Access knowledge base for integrating and deploying solutions with direct IT support.
  • Ultimaker 3D printing academy - E-learning courses to ramp up onboarding of Ultimaker solutions.

With Ultimaker Academy businesses can provide their employees with online courses ensuring their business is using 3D printing technology to its maximum capacity. At a time when many manufacturers have had to furlough the majority of their workforce, investing in employees and upskilling the workforce leads to benefits for both the employee and the employer. After a prolonged time off work, offering opportunities to upskill is likely to motivate employees to bring new ideas and re-engage them into the business by making them feel valued.

Due to the increasing costs for parts and raw materials resulting in a higher cost per item businesses are experiencing lower profit margins. Manufacturing aids are often highly customised parts and outsourcing these results in long lead times and additional costs. With 3D printing, businesses can produce in-house and reduce the need to outsource. This lowers the cost per item, speeds up lead time per part, and overall produces the part cheaper than before - therefore increasing profit margins.

Additive manufacturing is a revolutionising production process; fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printing, in particular, has already been adopted by diverse industries around the world. Some of the industries that have already started using additive manufacturing include automotive, engineering, and packaging. 3D printing provides manufacturers flexibility and removes constraints that existed with traditional manufacturing methods. To illustrate the success of these industries - take a look a how businesses innovate and transform their production processes and save time and money with Ultimaker solutions.

Ford’s pilot plant in Cologne, Germany was able to implement more than 50 3D printed tools for high-volume production of its new Focus, with considerable cost savings per tool compared to conventional methods. The alignment tool pictured above ensures that emblems and decals are consistent for each vehicle that comes off the production line.

Ultimaker 3D printer in operation

3D printed manufacturing aids make production easier, faster, and cheaper for world-leading beauty company L’Oréal. The pictured gauge keeps product packaging consistent by verifying that labels are correctly positioned. With standardised label placement and quality assurance, deviations are unlikely to hit the shelves. Before adopting 3D printing L’Oréal spent as long as 18 months on packaging prototype development, now designs are validated in days.

Ultimaker 3D printed aids make production easier for L’Oréal

Schubert uses 3D printing to deliver tools for its future-proof, high-performance packaging machines, making them even more versatile and easy to operate. Using 3D printing technology gives Schuber more design freedom compared to using traditional methods of manufacturing. For instance, a tool that once consisted of more than 200 parts can be created in a single print, reducing weight and assembly time. Sending these 3D printed parts has been a huge success however sent them to clients is time-consuming.

To offset this, Schubert offers a 3D printing solution that functions as a digital warehouse. With the Ultimaker Digital Factory companies can create their own digital library and print-on-demand, in-house, so long as they have an Ultimaker 3D printer.

Schubert uses 3D printing to deliver tools for production line

Driven by technology and passionate about innovation, Ultimaker is the market leader in desktop 3D printing and offers a range of high-quality 3D printers, Ultimaker Cura software, materials, and support. Since 2011, Ultimaker has built an open and easy-to-use solution of 3D printers, software, and materials that enable professional designers and engineers to innovate every day.
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