Reshoring and modernizing supply chains to better deal with customer demand

Reshoring and modernizing supply chains to better deal with customer demand

Toronto, Canada - 03/30/2021 — High scale automated 3D printing’s impact on the future of manufacturing

(March 30, 2021, Toronto) Today, Mosaic Manufacturing launched its Array Product ecosystem to enable 3D printing for scaled manufacturing applications. Alongside this release, they have announced a partnership to work with Athletic Knit to enable Athletic Knit to produce hundreds of thousands of custom apparel components using 3D printing. 

This collaboration is captured in video form here

Athletic Knit is one of North America’s largest jersey manufacturers, creating custom apparel for hundreds of thousands of athletes every year. In business since 1962, Athletic Knit has primarily produced their product lines in Canada.

Due to increases in customer demand and company growth, Athletic Knit began outsourcing portions of their supply chain overseas. This strategic decision was done in order to allow throughput to increase, while maintaining their cost base. One unfortunate output of this shift was an increase in lead time, increasing by over 4 weeks for products sourced from overseas. 

Today, customers expect faster and faster delivery, with some expecting the next day, and have difficulty understanding why any product (even a custom jersey) would take more than a week to produce. Athletic Knit began investigating non-traditional methods and landed on 3D printing as a potential solution. 

For Athletic Knit, the driving forces behind the adoption of 3D printing were: 

  • Product Customization/Personalization: Due to high customization requirements of AK’s jersey business, and 3D printing’s ability to personalize products for no cost, there was a natural fit between the AK’s requirement and 3D printing’s capabilities.
  • Quick Turnaround Time: With no setup or tooling, the turnaround time of 3D printed parts means these parts will not hold back the rest of the production process.
  • Local Production: With 3D printing’s ability to be setup at AK’s existing production facility, they were able to access on-site production to match their existing approaches.

Athletic Knits team identified a number of hurdles early on, including: 

  • Monochrome output: All of AK’s parts are multiple colors, and the monochrome output of most 3D printers meant that the existing infrastructure could not serve their needs.
  • Unscalable Process: The highly manual nature of 3D printing meant that to hit their throughput goals, AK would have had to hire over 50 team members just to run the 3D printing process.
  • High cost per part: A high labour requirement drives up a high cost per part, meaning that components manufacturing with traditional 3D printers could not hit internal cost targets.

Athletic Knit got in touch with the team at Mosaic to learn about how Athletic Knit could adopt Mosaic’s Palette technology to enable the printing of custom, colored jersey components using Mosaic’s Palette technology. 

‘The ability of what 3D printing can do to match what twill looks like, is unbelievable. With Array, the great thing is, once you get things setup, you have so many printers running at once that it speeds up your process so much. It’s one person, one spot, one system, that really can print almost anything you can imagine in a really short period of time.’

  • Dan Sliwin, Co-President, Athletic Knit

‘The team at Athletic Knit’s vision for how 3D printing can play a role in their supply chain has created an entirely new application for 3D printing in manufacturing, and the apparel industry as a whole.’ 

  • Mitch Debora, CEO, Mosaic Mfg. 

Mosaic had been approached by a number of potential partners seeking a similar output, which put them on a path to creating their Array product line. Array enables 3D printing in manufacturing settings by unlocking the following benefits 

  • Decreases total cost per part by up to 95%: Through a mix of automation, increases in machine throughput, and parallelization, Array is able to decrease the total cost of a 3D printed part by up to 95%.
  • Increases range of printable parts: Through the enablement of printing high temperature materials, as well as multiple materials in a single print Array is able to expand the range of parts that can be produced.
  • Increases output per operator by 15x: Through a combination of hardware and software automation, Array allows one operator to run the equivalent of up to 250 3D printers.

The Mosaic Array product line allows Athletic Knit to hit their cost targets, throughput requirements, and end product specifications by utilizing scaled and automated 3D printing. 

What does this mean for manufacturers like Athletic Knit? 

Leaning on Array for customized, digital production means that Athletic Knit is able to scale their throughput internally to meet demand. This additional scale means decreased lead times, stable product costs, and predictable, reliable throughput. 

For the first time, manufacturers are able to access scalable and flexible manufacturing solutions, with an attractive cost per part output. Firms can offer a greater range of customization options to their customers, and due to the lack of tooling and setup time with additive manufacturing, will be able to deliver those products in record time. 

Additive Manufacturing and the Factories of the future

Customization: 3D printing allows customization and personalization for free, 3D printing at scale allows for mass personalization for the first time in the history of manufacturing. With personalized customer inputs, and a production system capable of printing custom parts (with no tooling) means that organizations can setup digital flows to allow customers to personalize products, and for that organization to produce them in an automated and efficient manner. 

Flexibility in production: Unlike traditional manufacturing techniques, additive manufacturing is able to produce a variety of parts in tandem, without changes to the equipment itself. This flexibility allows for 3D printing production systems to create components as needed on the factory floor, releasing production bottlenecks and bringing new levels of efficiency to the factory floor. 

Traceability and Planning: The digital nature of 3D printing creates a level of transparency and automation when operating alongside other production systems. Production plans can be implemented into 3D printing production softwares, and production schedules will automatically be executed by the 3D printing systems. This automated implementation and execution allows engineers to spend their time on more valuable things, as opposed to the execution of production orders. 

The benefits of additive manufacturing on the factory floor have been clear, but the technology has always lagged behind its practical applications. There are a number of key aspects holding 3D printing back - these factors are what Array was designed to improve. 

Scalability and Total Cost per Part 

To date, 3D printing has been incredibly successful in applications with low volumes and high part volumes: Prototyping, Aerospace, Jewelry, Dental, Automotive. 3D printing has struggled when volumes increase, as the cost of 3D printed output is linear. On a per part basis, it costs the same to print 10 of something as it does to print 10,000 of something. In manufacturing, these costs decrease exponentially at the beginning, and level off. 

This linear cost base is due to the fact that 3D printing is an inherently manual process. Aspects like part post processing, print removal, material loading, and file management are incredibly cumbersome when dealing with thousands of parts, and even more difficult when working with thousands of custom parts. 

The lack of scalability and high cost per part are closely tied together, and mainly due to high labour components and generally low throughput on a system to system basis. 

The answer to solving the scalability and total cost per part problem is simple - automation and parallelization. By introducing robotics and parallel printing systems, one is able to solve the scalability and cost per part issues, while maintaining the benefits of the flexibility of 3D printing.

Long Term

What all this really means is that the infrastructure for mass customization and mass personalization is finally here. With the ability to scale throughput, hit cost targets, and allow personalization through geometry, material properties and color selection - manufacturers are finally able to harness the benefits of a traditionally low scale technology in a mass manufacturing environment. 

Media Contact
Christopher Labelle
+1 613 583 7132

About Mosaic Manufacturing

Mosaic Manufacturing Ltd. was founded in 2014 with a mission to bring 3D printing to the factory floor. Mosaic is accomplishing this goal by revolutionizing the economics of 3D printing at scale, with a focus on automation of both the software and hardware processes.. The Toronto-based company believes that this shift towards automated additive manufacturing is the beginning of the journey to personalized parts and products becoming accessible through the next generation of manufacturing.

Media Contacts:

Company Name: Mosaic Manufacturing Ltd.
Full Name: Christopher Labelle
Phone: 6135837132
Email Address: Send Email