Charles Goulding and Andressa Bonafe of R&D Tax Savers discuss 3D printing activity at digital manufacturing solutions provider Jabil.
A Fortune 500 company with revenues exceeding $19 billion, Jabil is a global manufacturing services company that offers end-to-end, comprehensive engineering capabilities with operations at over 100 sites in 29 countries. With growing 3D printing capabilities, Jabil has helped its clients implement additive manufacturing as a strategy to stay cost-competitive, reduce production risk while also achieving higher quality and shorter time-to-market. A major 3D printer end-user with a global network of additive manufacturing facilities, Jabil has wide-ranging experience in implementing 3D printing for different production needs.
The 3D printing industry can learn from Jabil’s experience, which helps understand the value of additive manufacturing in ever more competitive markets and sheds light on the challenges of integrating it into complex business environments. R&D tax credits are available to support companies that, like Jabil, believe that additive manufacturing solutions are integral to the factory of the future.
The Research & Development Tax Credit
Enacted in 1981, the federal Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit allows a credit of up to 13 percent of eligible spending for new and improved products and processes. Qualified research must meet the following four criteria:
New or improved products, processes, or software
Technological in nature
Elimination of uncertainty
Process of experimentation
Eligible costs include employee wages, cost of supplies, cost of testing, contract research expenses, and costs associated with developing a patent. On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the bill making the R&D Tax Credit permanent. Beginning in 2016, the R&D credit can be used to offset Alternative Minimum Tax and startup businesses can utilize the credit against $250,000 per year in payroll taxes.
Jabil’s Empowerment Mission
Serving some of the biggest and best-known brands in the world, Jabil offers different “empowering solutions”, including accelerated innovation solutions that aim to preserve its clients’ relevance against the backdrop of the fourth Industrial Revolution; global manufacturing agility solutions, designed to prepare businesses for geopolitical and economic shifts as well as changing demographics; engineering excellence solutions to help solve bottlenecks and translate ideas into manufacturable, competitive products; along with supply chain orchestration solutions that aim to optimize performance and mitigate risks.
Jabil Blue Sky Innovation Centers are thought-provoking, collaborative spaces created to help clients engineer growth and establish market leadership. With four locations around the globe, the centers focus on cutting-edge technology, including factory-of-the-future capabilities like automation, product design, intelligent digital supply chains, the Internet of Things, and more. The 102,000-square-foot Center in San Jose, California focuses on additive manufacturing as well as intelligent digital supply chain solutions, human machine interface, robotics, and sensors.
3D Printing and The Factory of the Future
Jabil has been at the forefront of 3D printing application, introducing additive manufacturing as a key digital production process in various businesses environments. Jabil has helped its clients widen 3D printing applications beyond simple prototyping, integrating them into end-to-end solutions that overcome the shortcomings of traditional manufacturing techniques. Jabil understands 3D printing as a strategic tool in ever more dynamic markets, where companies must search for differentiation while facing compressing product life-cycles, time-to-market pressures, as well as demand for personalization and customization of products. As stated in Jabil’s website, 3D printing can not only unlock major cost savings by eliminating expensive tooling and fixtures but also open the way for increased design freedom. Jabil’s designers, engineers and system architects are constantly conducting cost, material and speed tests to find the optimal 3D printing solution to match its customers’ needs.
Jabil has wide-ranging experiences with different 3D printer providers. Its team in Auburn Hills, Michigan has recently incorporated cost-efficient Ultimaker 3D printers into their workflow, achieving a reduction of 80% in production time and a 30% cut in the cost of tooling. Jabil has also partnered with HP for the production of the Jet Fusion 3D Printing System, being responsible for printing critical parts of the printer. Furthermore, it has recently announced the deployment of additional HP Jet Fusion 4210 systems in Singapore, as part of the Jabil Additive Manufacturing Network. Previous experiences manufacturing 3D printers include taking over the production of Stratasys’ MakerBot. Jabil’s team has also conducted research on equipment and strategies from other major provides, including 3D Systems equipment.
Jabil’s Global 3D Printing Network
In April 2018, Jabil introduced a global network of additive manufacturing facilities in the United States, China, Hungary, Mexico, Singapore and Spain. Consisting of about 100 3D printing machines, the cloud-connected network includes high-speed sintering and fused filament fabrication along with the capability of printing polymers and metals. Jabil anticipates a rapid expansion of its additive manufacturing initiatives, as it helps more customers apply 3D printing capabilities to increase production speed and enhance product design. Current capabilities of the Jabil Additive Manufacturing Network fit the needs of needs of the footwear, industrial machines, transportation, aerospace and healthcare industries, considering quantities from 40,000 to 50,000. Furthermore, the globally connected network enables Jabil clients to move workloads to new areas, giving them proximity to valuable markets and consequently accelerated time-to-market.
Jabil has also developed traceability strategies that address the challenges of applying 3D printing through a distributed network and ensure integration with Intelligent Supply Chains for material, printer, and customer order optimization. Jabil’s 3D printing experience further includes Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) methods that aim to deliver steady increases in part/assembly consolidation, manufacturability, reliability and quality of 3D printed parts.
Jabil is a major 3D printer end-user with the history and expertise to seek and implement the optimal 3D printer for the right project. Being one of the world’s largest design and manufacturing solutions provider, Jabil has been at the forefront of the integration of additive manufacturing solutions tailored to different industry needs. Jabil is an interesting case study for the 3D printing industry, especially as it sheds lights on the benefits and challenges of implementing additive manufacturing strategies.