A significant proportion of our products are using intermediate goods sourced from existing supply chains. However, with added uncertainties in the supply chains due to the economic and trade climate, it has become evident to us that it is important to build our own additive manufacturing capabilities. Therefore, to enable the ultimate creativity and flexibility in production, we invested in additive manufacturing, or commonly known as 3D printing.
3D printing is a process where a three-dimensional item is created by adding material layer by layer, instead of the usual moulding process.
By building objects layer by layer, materials are being added onto each other, hence there is minimal wastage of materials, effectively reducing waste. This also creates a very agile production cycle as each production item can be different. This works very well for us since we have more than 200,000 Stock Keeping Units (SKUs).
For example, for our phone case products, each case design has to cater to more than 100 phone models. With 3D printing, we can produce one specific phone case design at a time based on the order received from the customer. There is no need to produce a large quantity of the same phone model, which is a common wastage issue encountered by manufacturers who employ traditional injection moulding processes. This helps us in reducing any possibility of obsolete stocks.
Currently we are deploying a 3D printing process known as fused deposition modelling (FDM). This is one of the most cost-effective technologies, and is able to work with many types of materials.
With 3D printing, we no longer have to conform with the traditional form of phone cases available in the traditional supply chain. Our designers are free to explore interesting forms that are unique and interesting yet practical. 3D printing enables a more dynamic, design-driven process.
Planning ahead for a future of full automation, the usage of 3D printing and computer aided design (CAD) software are natively digital, making the future of full automation in our production processes much more within reach.
Most importantly, 3D printing not only fits well with the Native Industry 4.0 Framework (NI4F), but also has almost zero carbon footprint and is very energy efficient, making it a very green manufacturing technology.