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Cutting Production Lead Times with 3D Printing

Jim Romeo
Jim Romeo 6月 05, 2023
6月 05, 2023

Reduce Manufacturing Lead Time and Improve Production Processes

3D Printing for Manufacturers

Manufacturing lead time is a critical variable for companies that rely on production and manufacturing processes to produce goods. In traditional manufacturing processes, it can take weeks or even months to produce parts and prototypes, causing delays in production, higher costs, and missed deadlines. However, with the emergence of additive manufacturing (AM) or 3D printing, companies can now reduce manufacturing lead time and improve their production processes. 

What Are Some Ways 3D Printing Can Cut Manufacturing Lead Times?

Additive Manufacturing has several features that make it an ideal technology for reducing manufacturing lead times. Here are three notable features.  


01. Producing in-house:

One of the most significant benefits of AM is that it enables companies to produce parts in-house. This eliminates the need to outsource production, reducing transportation time and cost, as well as the risk of damage to the parts during transit. Moreover, the in-house production of parts allows for faster production times and greater control over the production process. 

Nylon-12CF-part

02. Accelerated Prototyping and Testing

Another benefit of AM is that it enables accelerated prototyping and testing. With AM, companies can produce parts and prototypes in a matter of days, instead of weeks or months. This speed allows for faster iteration and testing of designs, reducing development times, and helping companies get products to market faster. 

03. Quick Production of Spare Parts

In traditional manufacturing, if a tool or part breaks, it can cause significant delays in production. However, with AM, companies can quickly replace broken tools and parts, reducing downtime and production delays. This means that if a tool breaks during the production process, it can be quickly replaced, reducing production downtime and improving overall efficiency.

Points of Value in Reduced Lead Times 

Cutting the lead times for product lifecycle development creates notable value.  It saves time-to-market, cost, and a better overall customer experience for customers and end users.  Here are four ways reduced manufacturing lead times creates value in production and manufacturing: 

Creates customer satisfaction:

Reducing lead times means that companies can get products to market faster, improving customer satisfaction. Customers expect products to be delivered quickly, and reducing lead times can help companies meet those expectations. Additionally, faster production times can mean faster response times to customer orders, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

Helps inventory management:

Reducing lead times can also help companies manage their inventory better. When production times are shorter, companies can produce goods on-demand, reducing the need for large inventories. This reduces inventory carrying costs and the risk of unsold inventory. 

Enhances lean manufacturing:

Lean manufacturing is a production method that focuses on reducing waste and increasing efficiency. AM aligns well with lean manufacturing principles, as it enables companies to produce only what they need when they need it. This reduces waste and improves efficiency, helping companies reduce costs and improve their bottom line. 

Improves production and manufacturing processes:

Reducing lead times can help companies improve their overall production and manufacturing processes. Shorter production times mean that companies can produce more goods in less time, improving their productivity. Moreover, faster production times can lead to faster feedback loops, enabling companies to make improvements to their processes more quickly. 

Metal Forming Whitepaper

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How East/West Industries Leveraged 3D Printing to Cut it's Production Lead Times

Stratasys customers are quite successful in implementing AM to reduce lead times and improve their manufacturing processes. By leveraging the benefits of AM, companies can improve customer satisfaction, manage their inventory better, align with lean manufacturing principles, and improve their overall production processes. 

For example, one customer, East/West Industries, Inc. is an aerospace designer and manufacturer who produces aircraft seats and products. When working to fulfill a specific customer order, they discovered that the job required a machined forming die. Just before the job was started, they found the die was damaged.  But a new tool required outsourcing. 

This presented a true dilemma for their order and would jeopardize their production and delivery schedule.  Even if they had the capacity to fabricate one in their machine shop, it would be time-consuming and likely costly to produce. 

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