Let's say you designed and have started selling some 3D-printed widget, in small batches, Etsy-scale. But suddenly demand for your object goes off the charts, and you need to move into mass production, quickly; Walmart puts in an order and sets a deadline, and if you can't meet it, your opportunity evaporates. What do you do?
Fictiv, the company that Forbes called "The AirBNB of manufacturing," has teamed up with Jabil, itself a large manufacturing services company (100 plants in 28 countries) to provide a solution for the situation described above. Their collaboration is meant to "connect and streamline 3D-print prototyping through to mass-scale production using an innovative digital thread," Fictiv writes in a press release. "Designed to de-risk and streamline the supply chain through quality, speed, transparency, and flexibility, the thread ensures a supported customer experience from quote to completion."
"The unique collaboration provides seamless handoff from prototype and low-volume production orders with Fictiv to full-scale mass production with Jabil. Through this unified lifecycle, products reach consumers at faster speeds, more efficiently, and with unprecedented agility."
What initially puzzled me was that they're calling this an "agile 3D printing collaboration," yet they also used the term "full-scale mass production," which to me means injection molding or similar. I had to hunt through the release a bit to confirm they didn't mean going from small-batch 3D printing to large-batch 3D printing--where would the time/cost savings be there?--and found this sentence:
"Beyond the 3D printing of parts, Jabil can now leverage Fictiv's precision service model to offer industry-best volume manufacturing, data, packaging and on-time fulfillment to end-customers with less risk." So assuming they mean they can get you from 3D printing to injection molding, I think they should change the name of the collaboration, as it's confusing.
That quibble aside, here are what I found to be the most relevant bits of the press release:
- "The move from idea to volume consumption is hard – no matter how solid the products are," Jean Olivieri, Fictiv COO said. "Our goal is to add speed and agility to the manufacturing supply chain to enable new product introduction without the risk. Our digitally enabled ecosystem facilitates efficient flow of data and materials, while our collaboration with Jabil supports end-to-end product lifecycle; prototyping to production, for the benefit of our mutual customers."
- "Accuracy, speed and agility are vital to success in volume manufacturing," said John Dulchinos, VP of Digital Manufacturing for Jabil. "Fictiv's commitment to data accuracy, combined with Jabil's investment in lean manufacturing, reduction in business systems and overarching digital infrastructure, enable fast, nimble production ramps."
- "The use of a quote-to-order platform makes sourcing and the supply chain less vulnerable to disruptions, as it leverages a global network of certified collaborators," said Jan Burian, Research Director, Manufacturing Insights EMEA for IDC. "And, thanks to cloud-based technology, shifting and sharing data loads within the manufacturing network makes the whole system very flexible and efficient."
Now you've just got to put your nose to the CAD grindstone and design that widget.