AM SoftwareDistributed Manufacturing

Markforged enables distributed manufacturing via Digital Source

The new on-demand parts platform is built to enable the licensing and 3D printing of manufacturer-certified parts

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Markforged Holding Corporation has recently released Digital Source, an on-demand parts platform built 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 allows vendors to upload digital part designs which can be securely licensed to customers, distributors, and contract manufacturers. Once uploaded, Digital Source end-users will have the ability to license the right to print parts onsite or through a growing network of approved print service providers.

“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, a sustainable energy solutions company. “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. If we can access and print the part we need, we can get that line or turbine back up and operational much quicker.”

“Digital Source unlocks a new way of managing supply chains. 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,” said Shai Terem, CEO of Markforged. “Digital Source not only can simplify logistics, but 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 is designed to offer consistent, reliable, turnkey production for 3D printed parts. Markforged is delivering the promise of digital warehousing by integrating 3D printing software, materials, and hardware with end-to-end process control. Vendors can specify and lock printing process requirements so that customers get manufacturer-certified parts on demand. Robust security safeguards digital part files, and encrypted print instructions are sent directly to printers to protect designs – allowing customers to just press ‘print’.

BMF GmbH, a vendor on Digital Source, is a highly specialized manufacturer of complex sand-blasting machines with over 200 installations worldwide, each featuring 60 printed components. These components 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, and 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 day,” said Ronny Bernstein, CEO of BMF GmbH. “Via Digital Source, the component can be printed on-site the moment a failure or wear is detected.”

Both vendors and customers of Digital Source can benefit from reduced inventory costs and simpler replacement part operations and availability, which can increase productivity, profitability, and customer satisfaction. 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.

“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,” said Bernstein.

Project DIAMOnD is the world’s largest emergency response network for on-demand printing, with small- and medium-sized manufacturers operating 300 Markforged printers. Project DIAMOnD, an Oakland County, Michigan, initiative facilitated by Automation Alley, is planning to implement Digital Source into the network to further empower the adoption of additive manufacturing on the factory floor.

“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,” said Pavan Muzumdar, COO of Automation Alley, and CEO of Project DIAMOnD. “We believe the future of manufacturing is distributed manufacturing. By connecting our physical world through secure digital inventories, Digital Source is very strongly aligned with our vision for the future.”

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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