Markforged today announced Digital Source, an on-demand parts platform. The company said it is designed to enable the licensing and 3D printing of manufacturer-certified parts when and where they are needed, without the cost or hassle of physical inventory management.
“Digital Source unlocks a new way of managing supply chains,” said Shai Terem, CEO of Markforged, in a release. “Every day a manufacturing line is down due to broken or worn parts can cost millions of dollars in lost productivity.”
“Availability of spare parts is critical to manufacturers’ success — but keeping an extensive physical inventory ties up capital in parts that may go untouched for years,” he noted. “Digital Source not only can simplify logistics, but [it] can also build resiliency into the supply chain and increase profitability as a result of these efficiencies. With Digital Source, parts can be digitized and printed at the time and point of need without the need to be manufactured in advance, shipped and stored until needed.”
Digital Source offers parts on demand
The new Digital Source offering allows vendors to upload digital part designs that can be securely licensed to customers, distributors, and contract manufacturers, said Markforged. Once end users upload the platform, it explained, they can license the right to print parts onsite or through a growing network of approved print service providers.
The company said it integrates 3D printing software and simulation, materials, and hardware with end-to-end process control for digital warehousing. Markforged said its network already includes more than 5,500 printers around the world.
Vendors can specify and lock printing process requirements. Markforged said it provides security safeguards for digital designs and print instructions so that customers can just press “print” to get certified parts on demand.
Customers and service centers can print design revisions directly from Digital Source, removing the waste from the disposal of outdated parts and the risk of installing the wrong part version, according to Markforged.
Both vendors and customers of Digital Source can reduce inventory costs, simplify replacement operations, and benefit from greater part availability, the company claimed.
Markforged says 3D printing provides superior parts
Markforged said its Digital Forge additive manufacturing platform enables manufacturers to accurately create parts in both metal and adanced composites. The company added that its hardware, software, and advanced materials are intended to be reliable and easy to use. It said it has more than 10,000 customers in over 70 countries.
“3D printing is already on the manufacturing floor,” Samuel Manning, public relations manager at Markforged, told Robotics 24/7 during a recent visit to its new headquarters in Waltham, Mass. “Our systems can produce high-quality parts for the aerospace, automotive, and other industries that are superior to conventional materials in terms of weight and strength.”
“With our telemetry, we can tell immediately if a part is out of spec, which is important for consistency and traceability,” added Charlie Lu, product marketing manager at Markforged. “BMW and other customers can replace metal injection molding, which is harder to change as needed.”
BMF reduces shipping costs, emissions
Bernstein Mechanische Fertigung GmbH (BMF), a vendor on Digital Source, is a German manufacturer of complex sand-blasting machines with over 200 installations worldwide. Each one includes 60 printed components, which are typically replaced every three to four months when the machines are running at full capacity.
“We needed a significant amount of storage capacity to be able to stock all the spare parts,” said Ronny Bernstein, CEO of BMG. “Often, the extended delivery time is linked to the customer’s ordering process, as the administrative procedures frequently take too long, when BMF ships the spare parts on the same date.”
“Via Digital Source, the component can be printed on-site the moment a failure or wear is detected,” he said. “Above all is uptime for our customers. The machine must run, and the customer must be able to continue producing.”
“Now, the majority of advanced composite parts are printed directly at the customer location, which not only brings down the time it takes to receive the part, but also brings shipping costs and CO2 emissions down, which is on all companies’ minds more than ever before,” Bernstein said.
BMF uses additive manufacturing to produce a crown gear that can replace a metal one. Source: Markforged
Project DIAMOnD promotes distributed production
Project DIAMOnD claimed that it is the world’s largest emergency response network for on-demand printing, with small and midsized manufacturers operating 300 Markforged printers. The Oakland County, Mich.-based initiative of Automation Alley is planning to implement Digital Source into its network to encourage manufacturers to adopt 3D printing into their production processes.
“We value Markforged because of its strong emphasis on protecting the digital recipe of parts and enforcing the standards of quality for remotely-printed parts.” explained Pavan Muzumdar, chief operating officer of Automation Alley and CEO of Project DIAMOnD.
“We believe the future of manufacturing is distributed manufacturing,” he said. “By connecting our physical world through secure digital inventories, Digital Source is very strongly aligned with our vision for the future.”
Vestas Wind Systems reduces downtime
“Digital Source gives us the agility to print spare parts where they are needed, so we can get machinery back up and running much faster and minimize our downtime,” said Jeremy Haight, principal engineer at Vestas Wind Systems A/S, an Aarhus, Denmark-based leader in sustainable energy.
“Time equals a very high dollar value for us—a line down in one of our factories is a big deal, but a turbine that has gone down can cost even more,” he said. “If we can access and print the part we need, we can get that line or turbine back up and operational much quicker.”
About the Author
Eugene Demaitre is editorial director of Robotics 24/7. Prior to joining Peerless Media, he was a senior editor at Robotics Business Review and The Robot Report. Demaitre has also worked for BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, and TechTarget. He has participated in numerous robotics-related webinars, podcasts, and events worldwide.
Follow Robotics 24/7 on Facebook
Email Sign Up
Get news, papers, media and research delivered
Stay up-to-date with news and resources you need to do your job.
Research industry trends, compare companies and get market intelligence every week with Robotics 24/7.
Subscribe to our robotics user email newsletter and we'll keep you informed and up-to-date.