3D Brings Mass Customization Closer

By Catherine

Written by Catherine Bolgar

Two opposing forces dominate industry: cutting costs versus satisfying customers. In the future, those forces may be less opposed.

Shoes in shop window display

Mass customization has been the big objective ever since Stan Davis coined the term in his 1987 book “Future Perfect.” Up to now, industry has fallen short of promises to really customize products. But digital technologies and the spread of manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing are making more products customizable without adding huge cost.

Everything that’s digital is, in the end, very easy to customize,” says Frank Piller, professor of management at Aachen University in Germany and co-director of the Smart Customization Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Digital printing, for example, allows for customization too complicated or too expensive for offset printing.

Now, technology is improving and costs are declining for the next generation of digital printing: 3D printing. “It can be used for a larger range of materials. What you can make with 3D printing is extraordinary,” Dr. Piller says. “Companies can ask, ‘Now that I have this really flexible manufacturing technology, what else can I do with it?’”

On the B2B side, customization always has been necessary. Machine-tool makers traditionally had a large collection of catalog items and also a high-end engineer-to-order business. In between came mass-customized solutions, which have a predefined base of solutions whose options can be refined, Dr. Piller adds.

Very few industrial players outfit an entire factory with new machinery. “They have legacy equipment, so they need customization to interface that with new equipment, as well as for adding abilities their competitors don’t have,” he says.

To make the process easier, equipment tends to be modular, which is a common feature of mass customization. Customers have a variety of choice for a number of modules, allowing them to get what most closely fits their needs without the cost of an individually tailored solution.

Modular designs may allow for easy upgrades and add-ons, but they also risk opening a door for competitors to barge through. With an integrated product, “you have to buy it all from me,” says B. Joseph Pine, co-founder of Strategic Horizons LLP in Dellwood, Minnesota, and co-author of the book “Mass Customization: The New Frontier in Business Competition.” But forcing loyalty via integrated design is shortsighted. “The more modular the design is, the more you can deliver what’s best for the customer,” he says. “That’s going to be the winning play.”

3d printer printing white pieces

However, 3D printing and digitalization may change the need for modularity and allow truly unique solutions in the future, from machine tools to consumer goods, Dr. Piller says.

Rather than limit customer choice to the model, size and color of their shoes, a 3D printed shoe could be customized for fit as well. That might entail a one-time cost for a foot scan, Dr. Piller notes, but such a scan could then be used to make a collection of shoes.

While mass customization of consumer products hasn’t come as fast or as far as expected, one industry that’s coming around is apparel. “It’s for obvious reasons: every body is unique, so you can’t buy anything off the rack and get anything that fits anybody. It’s impossible,” Mr. Pine says.

There’s waste in the system,” he adds. Retailers discount, dump or recycle tons of unsold clothes. “They produced what people didn’t want. Mass customization allows you to produce on demand, so there’s less waste. It’s more environmentally sustainable. You eliminate shipping around the world stuff that you’re not selling.”

Rather than create a product in the hope that it will appeal to consumers, manufacturers using mass customization make a product they know a customer wants, because that customer has ordered it in the size and color the customer prefers.

“Instead of pushing what you have, the consumer pulls what he wants,” Mr. Pine says. Mass customization turns a good into a service. Goods are standardized but services are customized—delivered when, where and how a customer wants.

Businesses have to please a generation of individuals who are used to customizing everything—they don’t buy an entire CD of music, but just the songs they like, which they play in the order they like; they don’t watch broadcast television but stream the shows they want, when they want them. Facebook is a mass-customized platform—everybody has the same tools available on it, but each person makes his or her wall unique. Similarly, smart phones are a platform for mass customization because each person loads the apps he or she wants.

Technology is enabling customization to continue even after a thing is purchased. Sensors are being developed for all manner of products, from thermostats that adapt to how you use your home in order to help you reduce your heating bill, to lighting controls that allow you to create precisely the ambiance you want, to razors that adapt to the contours of your face.

This kind of customization is primarily in anything that can be digitized,” Mr. Pine says. “Sensors are going into everything.”

For more from Catherine, contributors from the Economist Intelligence Unit along with industry experts, join The Future Realities discussion.

How Our Demo at IMTS Will Shape How You View Machining

By NC

Hi, I’m NC Kishore, Senior Technical Specialist at DELMIA. This blog is the first of many Manufacturing posts that you’ll see from me on the topic of Machining.

Let me ask you this. When you think of machining, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it images of your high school shop teacher’s class or simply the stark environment where machine tools are cutting, shaping and drilling metals, plastics and more? Today’s modern machine shop can be, and is, so much more. We would like to show you why that is at the Dassault Systèmes booth at the upcoming International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS).

IMTS Machining

The 4th Industrial Revolution Has Started. See It At IMTS, Booth E-3125.

At the booth, you can expect to see a Single Source for Speed—an Industry Solution Experience for industrial equipment companies that need to manage their entire product development process – from idea to design, production and servicing – across all geographic locations. Our DELMIA representatives will be there to support this experience with our own DELMIA Machining demonstration.

We will be featuring the 3DEXPERIENCE for Machining. During our demo, find out why DELMIA Industrial Equipment Machining enables manufacturers to program, simulate and optimize machining processes through tight integration of tool path programming with machine tool simulation. Come see how NC programmers, for example, can identify and resolve errors in tool paths earlier and reduce programming lead times. With capabilities to capture and reuse best practice knowledge, NC programmers can program smarter and faster while maintaining the quality of the programs and precision on parts machined.

Does this sound like something you would like to see? Let me know in the comments below.

Just be sure to join us at IMTS 2014 September 8 – 13 at the McCormick Place in Chicago and stop by the Dassault Systèmes  Booth, #E-3125 for more information on DELMIA IE Machining.

If you would like to continue the technical conversation on machining, go where all the experts are. Join the conversation at the DELMIA Machining Community!

Manufacturing Goes on The Cloud

By Tony

Cloud

The Cloud is Everywhere

Or at least it seems like the cloud is everywhere today. More and more you see service offerings to back-up your system data or store your files. The storage space is nice to have, but I like the cloud for the data organization aspects. Cloud storage lets you organize things like your music for example, according to many different criteria. So instead of just listing it alphabetically like I would on my hard drive, I can organize it according to the genre of music, or the year it was released. I can organize it according to whether I listen to it while I am driving or while I am working out. It also lets me grant access to it according to who may listen to it, so if it is a suitable song, I can grant access to my son or daughter so they may listen to it.  As my library of photos and music grows, as well as my family, I can add more space to the cloud to scale it to my usage.

Manufacturing on the Cloud Makes Big Data Easy to Manage

Manufacturing applications on the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform work much in the same way.  Of course the cloud offers a great repository to keep all of your manufacturing data and applications. But even better, it offers a great place to manage and access all of your project data.  Whether it is a document, a process plan, a workcell simulation, or a manufacturing resource, it can be easily accessible on the cloud from the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. 3DEXPERIENCE on the cloud makes large amounts of data manageable and makes it easily searchable by different criteria.

Manufacturing on the Cloud Offers Scalable Resources

Manufacturing on the cloud is scalable. Projects ramp up and down as do workloads. Companies have a tough time managing hardware and software requirements that are constantly in a state of flux. Once hardware is purchased, it is on the books until it’s lifecycle is over. On the cloud, software and hardware requirements are completely scalable. So as projects and workloads ramp up and down, so does the system utilization and software licensing. This means that the capital investment made for hardware and software is transferred to a scalable system. Over the years as the company grows, the value of the 3DEXPERIENCE on the cloud grows exponentially.

Manufacturing on the Cloud helps companies to be more competitive

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud gives smaller companies many advantages. It provides scalable resources and technology at a lower cost. By hosting hardware and software on the cloud, it also allows for reduced on-site support from IT specialists, as well as reduced infrastructure. Since it lets IT offload the responsibility, your team can focus on new projects and new products. In other words, they can focus on growing your business.

There are many possibilities when manufacturing goes on the cloud. What do you think? To learn more, join in the conversation or visit our blog “60 Seconds to Experience”.



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