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Ultimaker: Transforming the Post-Brexit Supply Chain

We started this year pondering what the post-Brexit trade deal will mean for supply chains, and the disruption businesses will face in 2021. To summarise, we took a look at new challenges arising and got to the conclusion that manufacturers …

Alejandro Auerbach

April 19, 2021

We started this year pondering what the post-Brexit trade deal will mean for supply chains, and the disruption businesses will face in 2021. To summarise, we took a look at new challenges arising and got to the conclusion that manufacturers must adapt to rapidly changing dynamics to survive. The solution we saw fit was an inevitable and intensive digital transformation in every aspect of supply chain workflows. And 3D Printing is a crucial and integral part of this transformation. To read our article where we talk about said transformation, click here.

Now, as we’re getting further into this year, it would make sense to make a follow-up on the issue. As we see from recent events, it is clear how vulnerable international logistics are. So, businesses are still assessing new ways to operate and import between the UK and the EU. In the previous article, we got into Ultimaker’s outstanding commitment to boosting productivity. Now, in this article, we’ll go deeper into how Ultimaker’s 3D printing tackles current post-Brexit supply chain disruptions. First, let’s do a recap on these issues.

Supply Chain Issues

Although the UK managed to get a new deal, manufacturers operating their supply chains between the UK and the EU still face significant challenges. Even when the deal exempted business from dealing with new tariffs, other barriers currently represent substantial barriers for the manufacturing industry. As anticipated last year, delays, border checks, and new regulations are shaking the foundation of supply chain networks.

Among the major challenges businesses are experiencing, some are the following:

  • Availability and delays in the arrival of goods, parts, and raw materials
  • Longer lead times 
  • Longer production times
  • Higher costs per item/product produced 

When it comes to regulations, Brexit generated a landslide of trade compliance complications. The UK’s new tariff regime, the UK Global Tariff (UKGT), applies to goods imported into the UK. In theory, the UKGT reduces and simplifies tariffs on many goods entering the UK and completely eradicates tariffs on certain raw materials and other products deemed beneficial to the UK economy.

However, many goods that used to be traded duty-free between the UK and the EU could be subject to higher tariffs. The new tariff regime may raise the cost of certain goods for UK importers, also increasing the administrative costs of complying with new rules and classification codes. 

The impact of Brexit on global trade over the next few years is likely to result in:

  • Higher costs for many goods and services
  • Increased import/export costs
  • Higher taxes
  • Border and customs disputes
  • Supply chain shortages and disruptions
  • Shipping delays
  • Business resource allocation issues

How 3D Printing Helps?

Trade regulations are inevitably raising the costs of parts and raw materials for British manufacturers, and ongoing delays lead to congestion in the supply chain. Following this, staffing downtime and increasing labour costs occur, and this is one of the largest sources of lost productivity. This is why businesses are looking at alternative ways to source and prevent. For instance, among the worst effects of these delays is that it could cause end customers to wait longer for their products, hence losing them to competitors.

Naturally, some are considering the potential of reshoring work back into the UK. Additive manufacturing offers lots of benefits and can make it possible for businesses to bring supply chains closer to home. And, what are these benefits? Flexibility, in-house 3D printing can support business recovery and growth by offering them flexibility.

With flexibility in their production, manufacturers can speed up production times through rapid in-house production and reduce lead times. For example, manufacturing aids are often highly customised parts and outsourcing these results in long lead times and additional costs. With 3D printing, businesses can produce in-house and reduce the need to outsource. Moreover, 3D printing custom parts and tools in-house also promotes a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. Customisation also allows businesses to involve the customer in the production process, and thus generating a competitive advantage. Let’s illustrate this better with a success story.

Gerhard Schubert Success Story

Businesses like Gerhard Schubert GmbH, the global leader in top-loading packaging machines (TLM), have already demonstrated the effectiveness of using 3D printing for customising tools used for multiple products. Using 3D printing technology has given Schubert more design freedom compared to traditional methods of manufacturing.

For example, tools with more than 200 parts can now be created in one print, reducing weight and assembly time. Tailoring these parts for customers has been a huge success but sending them to their clients was time-consuming. To offset this, Schubert created a 3D printing solution that functions as a digital warehouse. Their customers can now select from a wide variety of parts and tools, and they can print-on-demand in-house. Everything here, they made it possible with Ultimaker 3D printers. Watch the video for more details.

Ultimaker Ingenious Solutions

Ultimaker’s unmatched take on productivity enables businesses to take advantage of a whole 3D printing ecosystem, allowing them to meet demanding daily production goals. In this article, we’ll cover three offerings like none other: The Ultimaker Material Alliance, the Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle and Ultimaker Essentials.

Ultimaker Material Alliance

As stated in the previous article, the Material Alliance is one reason why Ultimaker is so attractive on the market. Businesses can access over 150 materials and print profiles through the Ultimaker Marketplace. With access to the Material Alliance program, businesses have the flexibility to choose the material that is best suited for their application. By identifying the properties needed for said application, manufacturers can print highly complex 3D prints with industrial-grade materials that offer maximum performance and are future-proof.

Some of the properties that Ultimaker materials meet include high strength, impact and chemical resistance and ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) safety. Also, it offers special material options like composites such as carbon fibre, flexible TPUs and flame retardants. Having such a versatile range of materials gives manufacturers numerous options and the flexibility to meet the requirements of the parts and tools they are producing.

Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle

There is a lot to consider in the environment where designers, engineers, and businesses look to integrate 3D printing into their workflow. With that in mind and to extend the capabilities of their flagship S5 model, Ultimaker introduced the Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle in September 2019 as a revolutionary desktop solution to enhance productivity. This bundle works by adding two modules to the S5 model: The Ultimaker Material Station and the Ultimaker S5 Air Manager. Let’s start with the first one.

The filament storage, the ability to automate production safely in the surrounding environment are all factors that maximise the many benefits of additive manufacturing. The Ultimaker Material Station offers real innovation, and its capabilities are one of a kind in the 3D printing market as a whole. To provide companies with true 24/7 3D printing, the features of the Material Station include: 

  • Intelligent storage unit for up to 6 filament reels
  • Controls humidity levels with silicone beads to absorb the ambient humidity
  • Front-loading for a simplified reel placement and removal experience
  • NFC recognition that knows the material type and colour and displays on the printer screen and in Cura
  • Auto replaces empty spool, which is ideal for large prints
  • Ultimately, it allows reducing operator times   

Now with the Ultimaker S5 Air Manager. Mounting it on top of the 3D printer fully contains the printing process and creates a safer overall work environment. Considering that 3D printers are currently being widely used in businesses, schools, colleges, and universities, reducing fumes and particles becomes necessary. Having a fully enclosed 3D printer has several benefits: 

  • Safe to use 
  • Having better control over the internal compartment environment reassures a better print quality.

Ultimaker Essentials

Manufacturers in all types of industry are being converted to using additive manufacturing technology. However, one significant barrier still prevents businesses from adopting this new technology: Lack of knowledge and, subsequently, a lack of training for their teams. Without any training, manufacturers will find it difficult to justify the advantages and values that 3D Printing offers. 

Ultimaker Essentials was introduced at the end of last year and is designed to scale the benefits of 3D printing across organisations with a software subscription that empowers designers and engineers and is also dedicated to enterprise stability and control. The software offers 3 different annual subscription packages: Light, standard and advanced. What makes this software so advanced is the features that are accessible within an Essentials organisational account, this includes:

  • Cura Enterprise: Packaged for deployment, security assessed, offers higher stability and support for 1 year
  • Digital Factory: Manage a full remote 3D printing workflow and scale-up productivity with user administration and team sharing within the organisation, all protected under a Firewall. 
  • Marketplace: Access verified and security assessed plugins with a controlled installation workflow
  • Ultimaker Support: Access the knowledge base for integrating and deploying solutions with direct IT support
  • Ultimaker 3D printing academy: E-learning courses to ramp up onboarding of Ultimaker solutions. 

Knowledge is power, and with Ultimaker Academy, businesses can provide their employees with online courses ensuring their business are using 3D printing technology to its maximum capacity. After a prolonged time off work, offering opportunities to upskill is likely to motivate employees to bring new ideas and re-engage them into the business by making them feel valued.

Last Thoughts

Additive manufacturing is a revolutionising production process. Some of the industries that have already started using additive manufacturing include automotive, engineering, and packaging. Again, 3D printing provides manufacturers flexibility and removes constraints that existed within traditional manufacturing methods. We end this article by showing some more examples of how the recognised companies leverage Ultimaker 3D printing to innovate and transform their production processes. 

First, Ford’s pilot plant in Cologne, Germany, implemented more than 50 3D printed tools for high-volume production of its new Focus, with considerable cost savings per tool compared to conventional methods. As seen in the video below, the alignment tool ensures that emblems and decals are consistent for each vehicle that comes off the production line.

The second example is how 3D printed manufacturing aids make production more accessible, faster, and cheaper for world-leading beauty company L’Oréal. The pictured gauge keeps product packaging consistent by verifying that labels are correctly positioned. With standardised label placement and quality assurance, deviations are unlikely to hit the shelves. Before adopting Ultimaker 3D printing L’Oréal spent as long as 18 months on packaging prototype development; now, designs are validated in days.

Lastly, Azoth 3D is implementing digital inventory for lean manufacturing. Azoth has achieved significant part cost reduction for customers, reduced inventory, and streamlined parts supply. Cody Cochran, the co-founder of Azoth 3D, believes that tools, jigs, and fixtures are the workhorse parts that enable production to continue. They look for parts that will benefit from being produced additively, and with no tooling, tool setup, or minimum order quantities. With this approach, fantastic time and cost savings can be made.

SolidPrint3D is here to help you. For more information on Ultimaker products, please call SolidPrint3D on 01926 333 777 or email on

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