Here’s a list. Read it, and stop when you see a company, agency or organization that you do not recognize. Ready? Here we go: Department of Defense, NASA, 3D Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Electric (GE), Johnson & Johnson, Siemens Industry, Stratasys, Wohlers Associates and Senvol. These are all Gold Members of America Makes, and Senvol is the organization’s latest addition.
I’m pretty sure you’ve probably heard of every agency, company or organization on this list except for, maybe, Senvol? If that is the case, Senvol is a new and seemingly unique analytical consulting company that “helps companies fully leverage the opportunities and benefits that additive manufacturing can provide. Senvol’s core expertise lies in analyzing how the implementation of additive manufacturing can increase business profit.”
Senvol’s two co-presidents, Annie Wang and Zach Simkin, both received their MBAs from Wharton’s Business School and have brought their consulting expertise and training to businesses looking for a reliable way to calculate if 3D printing would add value to their operations. The company has developed a proprietary algorithm that quantifies and qualifies which parts can be more cost-effectively made using additive manufacturing vs. the status quo. Through their work, they have identified seven supply chain scenarios that tend to lend themselves well to additive manufacturing:
Expensive to Manufacture: Do you have parts that are high cost because they have complex geometries, high fixed costs (e.g. tooling), or are produced in low volumes? AM may be more cost-efficient.
Long Lead-Times: Does it take too long to obtain certain parts? Are your downtime costs extremely high? Through additive manufacturing, you can often get parts more quickly.
High Inventory Costs: Do you overstock or understock? Do you struggle with long-tail or obsolete parts? AM can allow for on-demand production, thus reducing the need for inventory.
Sole-Sourced from Suppliers: Are any of your critical parts sole-sourced? This poses a supply chain risk. By qualifying a part for AM, you will no longer be completely reliant on your current supplier.
Remote Locations: Do you operate in remote locations where it is difficult, time consuming, or expensive to ship parts to? AM may allow you to manufacture certain parts on-site.
High Import / Export Costs: Do you pay substantial import/export costs on parts simply because of the location of your business unit and/or your supplier? On-site production through AM can eliminate these costs.
Improved Functionality: AM can enable a part to be redesigned such that its performance is improved beyond what was previously possible, resulting in increased profit margin or market share.
Senvol presented two case studies of its algorithm in action this past June to over 200 attendees at the RAPID Conference in Detroit, Michigan. Entitled “Determining Cost-effectiveness of Additive Manufacturing”, the Senvol team discussed and walked the audience through examples of where and when Additive Manufacturing is cost effective, and when it is not. The first case was examining the process by which a small part is created in General Electric’s Measurement and Controls Division. The part is small, low-volume, machined in aluminum alloy and, most importantly, each order has custom variations (no two customers order the exact same part). The potential benefits of Additive Manufacturing here are reducing the manufacturing cost and eliminating component assemblies. Using the Senvol algorithm, this case is classified under the “Expensive to Manufacture” scenario. The task that the algorithm performed in this case was to compare the status quo of the part (set at 0$ for analysis purposes), and compared it to the hypothetical replacement of this manufacturing process by 3D printing it in a specific metal. This scenario was not cost beneficial, given the fact that it was $99,051 more expensive. Next, the status quo was compared to a hypothetical scenario which showed that if GE produced this part by 3D printing it as a polymer part, it would actually save GE $100,534 over a ten year period. Although this isn’t that much money for GE to save, if you apply the same analysis for dozens of parts, the cost savings becomes much more evident and significant.
Watch the full presentation (including the example that shows where AM was not cost effective), of Senvol presenting at the RAPID Conference.
Co-president Annie Wang said in an interview with Bonezone: “It is critical for companies to understand that AM is not simply a new method to make existing products, but also a method to create products that could not have existed before, or to supply these products in a way that did not exist before.”
Senvol has created an expansive network and is connected to virtually all major industry stakeholders, including AM hardware manufacturers, service bureaus, materials providers, academic institutions engaged in AM research, government organizations, government research laboratories, industry thought leaders, and AM investment firms, and clients will gain access to this carefully crafted network.
Senvol is indeed making some interesting moves, having already worked with a variety of Fortune 500 companies in industries such as aerospace, oil & gas, consumer products, and automotive. Amazingly, Senvol also authored a section of the 2014 Wohlers Report, and Zach and Annie have been featured panelists and speakers at numerous industry trade shows and conferences. Most recently, they were the closing keynote speakers at the 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing Summit.
Finally, I think what really sets Senvol apart, and makes them a company to watch, is the emphasis on rigorous cost benefit analysis. They are not here to push additive manufacturing as a solution no matter what, rather they set out to analyze an operation, and implement 3D printing when it is proven — mathematically — to be a cost-effective replacement.
If you’re a company that’s looking to adopt additive manufacturing but can’t figure out the ROI (Return On Investment), Senvol could be a solution.