Do Your Homework & Align All Stakeholders Around Common Business Goals
GET TO KNOW FUTURE TECH’S KEVIN BILLETT, 3D PRINT TEAM LEADER
I’ve always loved creating things and knowing how others create. I love walking the floor at trade shows to see new innovations, even those that have nothing to do with my universe of additive manufacturing (AM) or 3D printing.
During my early industrial design training, I had my first experience with 3D printing in the late 90’s on a Z Corp machine. This contraption made parts with starch and binder, and was decent at making impossible shapes, but hardly anything functional without the worry of breaking.
Today, that love for industrial design and years of commercial additive experience propel me as a passionate consultant on AM, helping companies make informed technology decisions and maximize their investment in 3D Printing.
When I help companies start or upgrade their 3D print journey, I focus on several key items:
Conducting Needs Analysis:
I help users to better understand the applications that additive can address. We commonly review items such as:
- What do you need to create, and what would an additive version’s value be versus current process? (e.g., does it enhance time, cost, complexity, materials, customization)
- What is the margin of error for stress tolerance, accuracy, resolution, repeatability?
- Is there room or facility flexibility to add something larger than a desktop item?
- What sort of benefit justifies the expense and ROI you may have to make?
I always urge companies to bring in as many players as possible at the start. It’s important to align all stakeholders around key business goals and outcomes. I like to walk people through each of the steps that they will encounter along the way, including time and scope, so there are no surprises.
The best illustration of value/ROI depends on the homework we do together. Having an accurate picture of past/current time and production costs allows us to evaluate how we can insert additive into the equation. Remember, when it comes to costs, we need to measure the impact of all factors – including equipment ownership and maintenance, materials and accessories, and labor. Sample parts can’t tell the whole picture by themselves.
When it comes to evaluating and implementing emerging technologies – like 3D print – there are no shortcuts on the path to success. It’s important to ask tough questions and get an accurate picture of costs and time. Having the right partner can go a long way in helping you find the best solutions to meet your current and future business goals.