Merck proves 3D printing's transformative power

Merck's core IT infrastructure team took the lead in helping the business innovate by exploring the transformative power of 3D printing.

Merck proves 3D printing's transformative power
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3D printing has proven transformative in industries ranging from automotive to aerospace. But can it do the same in biopharmaceuticals?

Until a few years ago, biopharmaceutical company Merck & Co. felt there were novel solutions involving 3D printing that could apply to many challenges it faced, but the company ignored those solutions due to the time, cost, and complexity of pursuing them externally. That all changed in 2015, when Merck initiated a small pilot project around 3D design and fabrication, validating the value the new capabilities could give the company.

"Over the past four years, Merck has increasingly leveraged advancements in Additive Manufacturing (3D printing) to establish state-of-the art capabilities aimed to enable and drive innovation across our enterprise," says Michele D'Alessandro, vice president and CIO of manufacturing IT at Merck & Co.

The project, which focused on driving innovation, saving time and costs, and protecting intellectual property, is part of a digital strategy involving computer-assisted design (CAD) for digital manufacturing, simulation, extended reality (AR/VR/MR), and future IoT. D'Alessandro says the project is the rare example of the IT infrastructure team taking the lead in bringing innovation to the business.

"We largely relied on the local relationships between the traditional managed print/local computer infrastructure staff and the business users — co-located with them — for the early pilot definition," D'Alessandro says. "It was really grassroots, starting with the brainchild of someone who was passionate about advancements in print technology and equally passionate about helping our business. The beauty of this project is that the traditional IT infrastructure area, historically less focused on innovative solutions to business problems, drove the grassroots effort. It is truly rewarding to have seen our infrastructure organization rise to the challenge through the project lifecycle."

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