New report: Supporting SMEs in creating value through 3D printing re-distributed manufacturing

The final project report from the feasibility study led by Dr Peter Dorrington at PDR, Cardiff Metropolitan University is now online. “Supporting SMEs in creating value through 3D printing re-distributed manufacturing” describes results of the work undertaken at PDR during 2016. The results of this project will be presented at the 3DP-RDM event 3D Printing Where and How on 31st January 2017 at the IfM in Cambridge.

Executive summary

Peter Dorrington

The aim of this report is to present a feasibility study which investigates the key challenges faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to create value through 3D printing-enabled re-distributed manufacturing (3DP-RDM). The key challenges that are investigated in this study include:

  1. The lack of support tools that enable SMEs to see the impact of a 3DP-RDM
    business model;
  2. The lack of design support tools for both 3DP and RDM;
  3. Primary knowledge gaps on 3D printing processes in SMEs;
  4. The gap in understanding and developing an appropriate skills-base within an organisation.

Data was collected through interviews, workshops and surveys with SMEs operating at a range of engagement levels on the 3DP-RDM spectrum. In addition industry and academic experts in the field of 3D printing were consulted. Analysis of the data was undertaken through affinity mapping; thematic analysis; IDEF0 NPD analysis; testing of a value capturing tool; and quantitative survey analysis. The results section of this study maps out in detail the keys challenges relating to points 1 to 4 above.

Accepting the limitations of such a feasibility study, the following recommendations are made to support SMEs in creating value through 3DP-RDM:

  • Embedding 3D printing in secondary education, and tertiary education;
  • Engaging SMEs in the 3DP-RDM conversation;
  • Addressing training needs for 3DP-RDM in SMEs;
  • Furthering the research agenda for 3DP-RDM.

[Image source: PDR]

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