[C] Enterprise Design | 21 Oct 2021

“3D Print” enterprise designs in the cloud

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The idea: 3D Printing has moved from instance printing (prototypes) into mass producing machines, reducing costs and time to market significantly. Imagine a world where enterprise design artefacts are “3D printed” in a cloud, and tested to effectively respond to shifts in your market or environment, enabling you to stay ahead of your competitors. Introducing your digital twin.

3D printing has been around for more than 30 years. Recently, the core technology for 3D printers has become available at prices many individuals and smaller companies can afford. Three key things make 3D printing stand out from almost any other manufacturing process:

  • Printed parts are “grown” in layers – many complex objects that have internal structures are comprised of subassemblies that can be manufactured in a single run, whereas previously they could not be made by traditional means. 
  • Material is added rather than subtracted – this process adds raw material to build an object rather than remove “machine” away 90% of a metal block, also called additive manufacturing. 
  • 3D printing often eliminates the need for complex or expensive production tooling – 3D printers are being used for mass manufacturing runs in which individual tooling or hand-crafting would make the product too expensive.

The traditional inefficient manner of producing new models of products will give way to new opportunities that were impossible to imagine before. The impact of 3D printing will enable the construction of anything from houses, jet engines to replacement of tissues and organs made from your own cells. (Source: 3D Printing for dummies, by Richard Horne and Kalani Kirk Hausman

Enterprises rank as some of the highest in terms of complexity, and certain philosophical perspectives considers enterprises as a living organism, that needs to be self-regulating dependent on what the changes takes place in- and outside the enterprise. Only through the adaptive nature and responsiveness of the enterprise can it survive the treacherous terrain it needs to navigate. Addressing complexity requires those who run, lead, design or govern the enterprise to have an understanding of how to address complexity, and this is where support is often needed.

Introducing a research and development capability for your business that “3D Prints” solutions in a similar manner how 3D printers print real objects. Drawing on similarities of 3D printing mentioned earlier, research and development within your business enables:

  • Solutions “grown” in layers – Through design science and action design research solution artefacts are developed in a systematic manner responding and or addressing holistic business problems.
  • Findings from theory and science is added to build fit for purpose solutions from the start, instead of reverse engineering – Through the research protocol problem instances are clustered or aggregated to form class-of-problems therein addressing systemic problems in a scientific manner, first time. 
  • Eliminate exorbitant change budgets and reduce the number of failed projects because of wrong solutions – Address class-of-problems instead of problem instances, through deliberate design, therein reducing the overall cost to achieve without duplicating project effort. 

It is within your grasp to leverage rich literature and know-how to mould, craft and develop in-house artefacts (solutions/methods/approaches/techniques) customised to your needs. This eliminates the guess work, improves return on investment, and increase success rate.

The conclusion: The traditional inefficient manner of designing and producing solutions will give way to new approaches and technologies such as AI that were impossible to imagine before, in a similar manner how conventional manufacturing practices are disrupted.


Andreas de Boer