Additive Manufacturing | 2 MINUTE READ

Digital Manufacturing Network Offers ‘Radical Transparency’ Over Multiple Processes, Providers & Continents

Fictiv now offers complete visibility of complete value chain from design upload to production, quality, shipping and pricing for metal and plastic prototypes and production parts from a “Digital Ecosystem” of 250+ partners in the U.S. and Asia.


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Online data management is giving a new view of globalized manufacturing and a vision of a future without expensive and time-consuming international travel and with digital “visibility” of design, production, quality and delivery data that could alleviate insecurities about far-flung value chains. It is a vision also compatible with both compressed timelines for product launches and the constraints on in-person collaboration imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In September, Fictiv, a San Francisco-based digital manufacturing venture, unrolled new, “industry-first” features that are said to deliver unprecedented visibility, traceability, speed and quality benefits for customers utilizing its Digital Manufacturing Ecosystem (DME). That digital platform allows metal and plastic prototypes and production parts to be ordered from more than 250 “highly vetted partners” in four countries (the U.S., China, India and Taiwan) that offer a collective 10,000 hr of monthly capacity for injection molding, 3D printing (by five different processes), CNC machining and urethane casting. Since Fictiv launched in 2013, over 10 million high-tolerance, custom mechanical parts have been made via this “ecosystem.”

Sample virtual inspection report from a partner in Fictiv’s Digital Manufacturing Ecosystem.


Sample virtual inspection report from a partner in Fictiv’s Digital Manufacturing Ecosystem.

Fictiv’s new “radical transparency” features include the following:

 •  On-demand production status—detailed current production status of all the parts within every order, immediately and online.

 •  Virtual inspection photos—inspection photos from manufacturing partner facilities before the parts are delivered (example shown here). Every part produced through the Fictiv DME receives a minimum of five dimensional inspections, with the resulting captured digitally for validation by Fictiv teams and customers.

 •  Centralized access to quality documentation—material certifications, certificates of conformance, and inspection documentation all available in one place.

 •  Order configuration details—centralized access to 2D and 3D design files, thread specifications, material and process configurations, and invoices for all Fictiv orders.

 •  Historical DFM (Design for Manufacturability)—digital access to previous manufacturability feedback for all ordered parts to inform future design cycles.

 •  Reorders—streamlined quoting process to reorder parts and lock in previous pricing.

 •  Shipment tracking—aggregate tracking links from third-party providers to keep all shipment data in one secure place.

“Historically, companies were relying on paper-based workflows, including phone calls late at night, file transfers, emails, and time-consuming site inspections when it came to overseas manufacturing—a risky, expensive process that often resulted in delays and quality issues,” says Fictiv CEO Dave Evans. Fictiv’s new approach, he says, “is better because our quality engineers and customers can inspect a part all along the way.”

Customers quoted by Fictiv say they value “having all this data updating live in one centralized place,” as well as “having 24/7 visibility and access to real-time schedules,” and “capturing the entire value chain from design upload through DFM with real-time pricing.”


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