In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become apparent that Sweden, like many countries, was not fully prepared for the crisis that unfolded. As the world continues to grapple with the effects of global catastrophes, it is crucial for nations to adapt and be ready for future emergencies. One such solution is the concept of flexible production, a system that could strengthen Sweden’s resilience in times of crisis.

Flexible production is a strategy that involves creating multiple production hubs within a country, ensuring that vital resources and products are always accessible. By diversifying production locations and capabilities, countries can better weather the storm of unforeseen circumstances, such as supply chain disruptions or large-scale emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, is a cutting-edge technology that enables rapid and efficient production of complex components and products. By incorporating additive manufacturing into flexible production strategies, Sweden can achieve greater flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and responsiveness in its industrial landscape.

In December of last year, a significant meeting took place at AMEXCI in Karlskoga. The event was attended by representatives from Saab, Försvarsmakten, Region Stockholm, Länsstyrelsen Stockholm, RISE, ABB, Mölnlycke, Regnergingskansliet, Adda and Socialstyrelsen. One of the primary organizer of the meeting was Johan Belfrage, Director of the Innovation & Business Development at Saab Dynamics.

Belfrage emphasized the importance of flexible production in crisis situations, stating, “In times of great uncertainty, it is essential for Sweden to have the ability to adapt and maintain self-sufficiency. By implementing a flexible production strategy that incorporates additive manufacturing, we can create a resilient & innovative infrastructure that ensures we are prepared for any crisis that may arise.”

To further discuss and follow up on the topic of flexible production and additive manufacturing, a subsequent meeting was held in March at AMEXCI, featuring Göran Backlund, CTO of  Saab Dynamics, Carl-Oskar Bohlin, the Swedish Minister of Civil Defense, Lena Rådström Baastad, the Governor of Örebro County and Johan Berggren, the Secretary of State for the Minister of Civil Defense. Everyone shared their insights on the potential benefits and challenges of implementing flexible production in Sweden.

During the meeting, Bohlin highlighted the importance of cooperation between government agencies, private companies, and research institutions to ensure the successful adoption of flexible production. Also Göran Backlund from Saab remarked, “The key to unlocking the full potential of flexible production starts with smart design solutions enabling manufacturing with additive technologies. Through collaboration and strong partnerships, we can create a robust and adaptable system that benefits not only our industries but also our society as a whole.”

The collaboration between these organizations signifies a commitment to finding innovative solutions to safeguard Sweden’s future. Flexible production combined with AM not only enables a more agile response to crises, but it also fosters economic growth and stability. By decentralizing production and leveraging advanced technologies, Sweden can increase efficiency, reduce dependence on foreign supplies, and create new job opportunities for its citizens.

As Sweden and the world continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to learn from the challenges and shortcomings that were exposed during the crisis. By adopting flexible production and additive manufacturing strategies, Sweden can pave the way for a more resilient and secure future.

Ultimately, the concept of flexible production serves as a reminder that, in the face of adversity, the ability to adapt and evolve is the key to survival. With this in mind, nations like Sweden can emerge from crisis situations stronger and more prepared for whatever challenges lie ahead.