Additive Manufacturing Strategies

3D Printing & On-Demand SmartMaaS Manufacturing as a Service

ST Medical Devices

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In the recently published ‘SmartMaaS: A Framework for Smart Manufacturing-as-a-Service,’ researchers from Queen’s University Belfast explore the potential for manufacturers selling their wares on-demand, rather than in a pre-defined format.

Cloud-based manufacturing offers potential we never could have dreamed of just several years ago, as progressive companies are leaning toward solutions like Manufacturing-as-a-Service (MaaS)—giving true definition to just one of the ways 3D printing and other disruptive technologies are indeed revolutionizing industry and commerce.

‘Connected products’ such as IoT devices, cloud computing, and more are expected to bring in profits from $519B-$685B by 2020—propelled by incredible innovation in both IT and communications, along with machine learning and artificial intelligence. Now, analysts expect that nearly half of all products will be ‘smart’ by next year.

SmartMaaS framework

The researchers have created the SmartMaaS framework to orchestrate the following:

  • Receive product requests from customers
  • Run required algorithms
  • Manage design and manufacturing resources
  • Use parameters to begin product design

One of the critical models used by SmartMaaS is the designing module, integrating with the framework for rapid processing and computation of design simulations. Afterward, both the modeling and manufacturing modules are used.

“As SmartMaaS uses cloud-based design and manufacturing, it gets access to a number of modelling tools (e.g. CAD tools) and manufacturers (e.g. 3D printers), which are made available via cloud services, Sofwareas-a-Service (SaaS) and Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS), respectively,” explain the researchers.

The decision-making module is used is used to select a manufacturer depending on whether they are affordable, available, and how long production will take. More interesting, this module is also capable of receiving feedback from customers, along with offering other factors that help refine products.

SmartMaaS prototype

A conceptual actor model is used to communicate between:

  • Customer
  • Design
  • Manufacturing resources

“This actorbased communication and storage approach keeps the SmartMaaS alive throughout the design and manufacturing process, which subsequently helps in making smart decisions (using the “Decision Making” module) to meet customers’ goals,” explain the researchers.

The prototype offers:

  • Actor-based state storage
  • Gene-based design growth
  • Remote CAD modelling
  • Remote 3D printing

In both discussion and conclusion, the researchers advise us further of the benefits here, to include exponentially faster turnaround. Not only does this mean that organization within the company is more cohesive and projects are begun and ended more quickly—customers are much happier. With cloud services, more requests can be handled simultaneously, design is produced more expediently, anomalies are detected, and delays are prevented.

“The future work includes achieving the goals that are set for SmartMaaS. As a next step, the SmartMaaS framework will be deployed in a public cloud, and decision-making algorithms will be proposed to choose optimal manufacturing (3D printing) options,” concluded the researchers.

On-demand production is an exciting concept as researchers continue to work on innovative projects, from printing portals to drop-on-demand methods to new techniques in bioprinting. What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source / Images: ‘SmartMaaS: A Framework for Smart Manufacturing-as-a-Service’]

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