Digital manufacturing is manufacturing based on digital plans that are read directly by the plant responsible for doing the manufacturing. In other words a manufacturing plant will receive the file and will then automatically produce the materials to specification. This then also allows for a lot of digital manufacturing solutions that are hosted online and that allow for POD (print on demand) manufacturing for businesses and individuals alike. Here then you will essentially have a system whereby users can upload their CAD files remotely (computer aided design) and then order copies of their product or even sell them directly without ever having to come into contact with them physically. What this then means is that a small sole trader who has a good idea can make a lot of money selling a product without ever having to purchase any of the equipment themselves or having to deal with any of the associated complications. This is also sometimes called ‘3D printing’ and it has at least levelled the playing field so that a smart entrepreneur can compete with the big businesses as long as their idea and their marketing are good enough.. And what’s more, is that because the product is printed on demand there is no need for an upfront investment and no danger of left over stock not selling and going to waste.
This is only the start of the benefits of digital manufacturing however. At the same time this will also enable companies and entrepreneurs to much more quickly and effectively make changes to their products and their plans based on feedback or on testing. For instance then you can sell a product then make changes to that product line without having to recall stock and spend a long amount of time and lots of money coming up with new complex plans.
This basically means that you have a much shorter ‘iteration cycle’ which is the process by which a product is released, analysed, altered and then re-released. This means that you can make tiny tweaks to your product and see how this affects sales and customer satisfaction. In turn you will eventually come up with a product that is completely tailored to your audience that has effectively ‘evovled’ in its design. It’s practically impossible this way for your product to fail.
There’s another great advantage to digital manufacturing too which is that it is incredibly eco friendly. Because you are using precise digital measurements and because you are able to constantly tweak your design as you go, this then means that you can make sure that your products are as efficient as possible at all times and that you waste the minimum amount of materials per order. Furthermore this will allow you to waste the minimum amount of stock because again you won’t have a situation whereby you are left with lots of unsold products (due to the POD nature). This then means in short that you will be able to reduce your carbon footprint by a large degree and this can make a massive difference across multiple companies.