Ten top tips for making the most of 3D printing
1. Evaluate th...
Robert Ganpatsingh, Partner at DMH Stallard, tells Manufacturing Global his best advice for making the most of additive manufacturing.
1. Evaluate the strategic benefits that 3D printing could bring to your business through increased agility and reduced product development time scales.
2. Secure your data both internally and externally. If you need to share designs with third parties, use geometrical models viewed through web based viewers. This means that you can avoid sending sensitive design files which can be rapidly disseminated and easily exploited through 3D printing.
3. For added security, invest in your own 3D printing capability to print prototype designs in-house.
4.Technology is constantly changing and advancements may overtake your current development and protection strategies. Keep up to date with changes in the industry to avoid this happening to you.
5. Set up as many barriers as possible to prevent the copying of your products. Remember to follow tried and trusted strategies to protect IP, such as design rights, patents and trade marks.
6. Place greater emphasis on determining which parts of your products may need their own individual protection.
7. If you are allowing customers or suppliers to 3D print finished parts of your own design, consider posting them on a site where distribution is controlled. You must have strict contractual terms agreed between you and the 3D printing bureau to give you added protection in case of any lost data, IP infringement or other legal liability.
8. If making production parts, ensure that you have appropriate control of processes within your organisation and with any sub-contractors you may use.
9. When making production parts, look to protect the process, not just the shape of the parts. Get advice to ensure the most important aspects of your products are properly protected. Don’t forget to look at our earlier report on protecting intellectual property.
10. As well as protecting the process used to create products, think about protecting the materials being used and how important they are. This may be through IP or an exclusive contractual agreement with the supplier.
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IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.