For hundreds of years, manufacturing has been a driving force behind opportunity, progress and growth. From the mechanization of the first industrial revolution to mass production and automated assembly, manufacturing innovation has moved the world forward. Our industry has fundamentally defined the way people work and live.
Today we are on the brink of the next wave of industrial progress. Manufacturing in the cloud – the software and infrastructure that enables manufacturing over networks – offers a leap forward, transforming the way we produce goods and addressing long-term challenges like visibility over networks. factory operations and slow production.
Just as manufacturing began to take advantage of microprocessors for control and automation in the 1970s and 1980s, today we can use vast computing power to speed up and improve manufacturing. Like the industry innovations that came before it, cloud platforms aren’t just changing what is possible to manufacture, they are changing the way we do it. Here’s how cloud manufacturing is revolutionizing collaboration and communication across the supply chain.
Unite creators and designers
Manufacturing is one of the biggest challenges in manufacturing. In the traditional system, design engineers navigate the process of creating a beautiful product, only to learn that it is impossible to manufacture when they try to get it produced. Since these two processes (design and manufacture) are separate, designers have little information about plant capabilities and manufacturing processes, while manufacturers have no idea of the intentions or goals of designers.
Cloud manufacturing bridges that gap. These two critical groups don’t have to work in isolation – and improved communication means better products, faster deadlines. Now designers can upload designs and receive immediate feedback on what’s possible, including constructive feedback on material, part geometry, and more. Instant communication opens up more tools for designers while helping manufacturers understand product goals and optimize parts for production.
Acceleration of manufacturing
Cloud manufacturing can combine with additive manufacturing capabilities to take our industry to a new level, introducing unprecedented speed and elasticity. Traditionally, the journey from design to production has been slow. Product development can take months or even years due to the huge gap between prototyping and production. The underlying processes and infrastructure used in prototyping are very different from those used in production, preventing easy handoffs.
With cloud-based additive manufacturing, you can prototype using the same processes and infrastructure used in production. Rapid prototyping allows you to test designs as you go. Prototyping and production take place in the same system, which means you don’t have to start over after building a prototype because you are working with the same technology and materials that you will use to make the final product. This seamless transfer allows for rapid iteration, allowing you to test production issues early in the process to avoid delays later.
Revolutionizing knowledge management
Getting a product to market is a long journey. From concept to prototype to scale-up to production and execution, nailing every step takes time. But traditionally, much of the knowledge hard gained on this journey goes unrecorded or retained, and it can be difficult to transfer that knowledge to new products.
Cloud manufacturing allows you to monitor and record every step of the way, so you can improve your product with each new design iteration. Collecting data from concept to completion allows you to connect the dots and make smarter decisions about the entire product lifestyle.
With the knowledge and understanding of the design choices that produce the best manufacturing results, we can make better decisions about the design and manufacture of future products. Cloud manufacturing enables a library of digital designs and production data that can show us what works and why. Now when we design or manufacture something new, we don’t have to start from scratch.
Enter a new era
Manufacturing has a bright future, and that future is now being played out with cloud manufacturing. Companies that embrace new ideas and adapt to changing technology have always been the ones that stand out. As our world evolves to take advantage of the latest manufacturing technologies, the winners of this era will be those who have the most transformational and innovative solutions to improve digital connectivity and production. Manufacturing in the cloud kicks off this journey, creating new opportunities for you to seize.
About Dr. King:
Dr King is Chief Scientist and Co-Founder of Fast Radius. Outside of Fast Radius, Dr King is a Professor and Andersen Chair in the Department of Mechanical and Engineering Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was the founder and CTO of the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute, one of the first national manufacturing institutes in the United States. He is the author of 225 journal articles and 20 patents. He is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Physical Society. He holds a doctorate. from Stanford University.