Jabil Inc. (St. Petersburg, FL) said it’s establishing a global network of 3D printing facilities as the company expands its additive manufacturing business.
The manufacturer said the Jabil Additive Manufacturing Network consists of about 100 3D printing machines in six countries.
“Jabil has been dabbling in additive manufacturing for a decade. We haven’t really thought about it as a manufacturing tool until the last couple of years,” John Dulchinos, Jabil’s vice president of digital manufacturing, said in a telephone interview.
Jabil’s move reflects industry shifts in 3D printing. Over the past five years, additive manufacturing has moved toward larger, industrial printers. New materials, including various kinds of metals, have become available for 3D printers. Additive manufacturing can enable new design of parts and systems not possible with traditional manufacturing methods.
The Jabil printers are in the United States, China, Hungary, Mexico, Singapore and Spain. The Jabil network consists of very types of printers. They include high-speed sintering and fused filament fabrication. The network also has the capability of printing polymers and metals.
Printers from HP Inc. (Palo Alto, CA) are part of the network, including a dozen Jet Fusion 3D 4200 machines. Six Jet Fusion 4210 printers, capable of printing large industrial parts and continuous operation, have been installed at the Singapore facility. Jabil produces parts for HP 300/500 printers. HP also has been expanding its additive manufacturing portfolio.
Jabil says the cloud-connected network enables it to shift printing jobs among its various facilities.
“We’re printer agnostics,” Dulchinos said. “We have a range of printing solutions. We get a lot more flexibility. It moves it to much more of a just-in-time, zero inventory strategy.”
The executive said Jabil anticipates further expansion of the network.
Referring to the 100 printers currently in place, Dulchinos said: “That is an aggressively changing number. To me, this is just the beginning.”