Philadelphia-based 3D printing software developer Authentise has released RFQ Responder, a new RFQ management tool. The digital platform aims to make the Requests For Quotes (RFQ) process quicker and more efficient for manufacturers by automatically generating key design data and prices. “It is the additive industry’s only tool that can do so for assemblies,” Authentise claims.
Like an RFQ, a Request for Proposal (RFP) solicits bids from contractors to complete a specific project. “Responding to RFPs for complex parts requires collaboration between many stakeholders, especially if they are moving towards production rate. They’re not quoted in instant online portals”, commented Authentise CEO Andre Wegner. “Experts consider a range of factors, not least the standards required in production. This can take weeks.”
The Authentise digital platform provides automated quotes as a baseline, which can be manually adjusted to identify the manufacturing team’s technology and production process requirements. Authentise incorporates its Guidelines recommendation engine alongside templatized workflows to aid the quote generation process. Moreover, the platforms Pre-Production Workflow Manager and chat function allow teams to work collaboratively and efficiently keep track of tasks.
RFQ Responder and Flows
RFQ Responder is Authentise’s latest digital offering, following the December 2022 release of Flows and Flows AM, a new workflow management suite. “With our recent release of Guidelines and the collaboration and quoting tools previously only available through Flows, we’re in the prime position to help make companies more reactive to incoming inquires,” said Wegner.
After Materials Management and the Digital Design Warehouse, RFQ Responder is the third spin-off product from Flows and something which Wegner is “delighted” to bring to market. Flows AM is available now, while Flows will be available later this year.
Authentise drew from their extensive experience with major companies such as Boeing, Danfoss, and Ricoh to develop Flows. According to Boeing’s time studies, the digital workflow system saves up to 94% on build preparation time and 3x ROI in 8 months. Flows AM is also slated as saving 1 hour daily on process overview and 30 minutes per production request.
Authentise claims that connecting RFQ Responder to Flows enables “deep machine learning,” as estimates can be compared against actuals over time. These insights can be used to improve the predicted production time and identify errors for future production runs. Moreover, the platform offers no-code integrations with Microsoft Power Automate, a workflow automation tool, to enable “deeper analytics.”
RFQ Responder builds on Authentise’s experience and the technology stack used for Flows to provide integration into Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems. On-premise deployment and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) hosting options are included to provide a high-security environment.
Industrializing Additive Manufacturing and the marketplace opportunity
As Additive Manufacturing becomes more widely used, digital platforms are spreading. Xometry, a global manufacturing marketplace, possesses over 10,000 suppliers worldwide and offers quick quotes through its Instant Quoting Engine. In 2021, the company acquired Thomas, a product sourcing, supplier selection, and digital market leader, in a deal worth up to $300 million.
This deal followed earlier efforts to expand Xometry’s portfolio. For instance, in September 2020, the company partnered with ExOne to incorporate its Binder Jetting services into the platform. “ExOne is a true innovator in additive manufacturing, and we believe this partnership is a big win for our customers,” said Xometry CEO Randy Altschuler.
During SOLIDWORKS World 2018, 3D CAD software provider Dassault Systèmes launched 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace, an on-demand manufacturing platform. Marketplace, part of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, connects customers to over 210 qualified service providers. Marketplace offers over 58 million qualified component configurations and calls itself “the most comprehensive online 3D components catalog”. Bernard Charlès, Vice Chairman and CEO of Dassault Systèmes, said the platform “transforms the supply chain into a value chain: a single, virtual, social enterprise, pioneering a new way to do business, innovate, and create value in industry.”
More recently, in November 2022, on-demand manufacturing software provider 3YOURMIND collaborated with material experts Arkema to release ‘Easy 3D’. This online materials platform aims to streamline requesting parts by linking Arkema customers directly to Arkema’s supplier network. Easy 3D offers an intuitive, user-friendly software interface, which is said to reduce the time required to identify and qualify parts for AM use cases. Moreover, the platform provides automatic price estimates and shortens the order-to-production timeline.
Elsewhere, in 2021 Israeli start-up Jiga launched a digital manufacturing marketplace that aimed to create and ship parts three times faster than achievable through in-house production. The service is claimed to save users 96 hours each year, offering a 34% reduction in lead times and an 85% PO cycle time reduction.
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Featured image shows the RFQ Responder Logo. Photo via Authentise