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.
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:
- The lack of support tools that enable SMEs to see the impact of a 3DP-RDM
- The lack of design support tools for both 3DP and RDM;
- Primary knowledge gaps on 3D printing processes in SMEs;
- 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]