One unique manufacturing technique that many believe will power the next industrial revolution is 3D printing. Designers and innovators worldwide are increasingly choosing this technology over traditional manufacturing techniques to help them develop, test, and produce products. Consider the following three reasons you should also use 3D printing when building your prototype:
1. Reduced Costs
With a reliable 3D Printing Provider, you can significantly cut your costs, primarily:
- Manufacturing and operational costs
The use of 3D printing significantly cuts down on labor costs as the 3D printer generally requires only one person to create a product. There’s an operator in charge of starting the machine and beginning the automated process of creating the uploaded design. Compared with traditional manufacturing, 3D printing doesn’t require extra people on the payroll to work on a production line to assemble the final product. Overall, there’s less need for additional labor to produce models, prototype parts, and tooling.
By outsourcing your prototype production to a 3D printing provider, you don’t need to invest in buying and maintaining an expensive 3D printer. You don’t have to spend money and time on educating your existing staff on how to operate a 3D printer or hire additional staff.
- Material costs
Additive technology or 3D printing refers to the production process wherein a material is precisely added and deposited, layer upon layer until a final product is completed. Another significant difference between 3D printing and traditional manufacturing is to get a final product; with conventional production methods, a material usually needs to be removed. Because of that, 3D printing uses less material and produces less waste during the manufacturing process. The material itself is easier to recycle and reuse.
2. Shorter Development, Testing, And Production Time
Suited for low-volume production with a fast turnaround from design to manufacturing, 3D printing is cost-efficient.
Presuming you have a 3d printing quote you’re satisfied with, you’re ready to start developing, testing, and, finally, producing your product.
The product development phase with 3D printing is also known as rapid prototyping. It prepares and optimizes prototypes to enter markets fast, in a cost and time-efficient way.
What enables companies and individuals to develop new products with reduced costs and time is the digital computer-aided design (CAD) system. The CAD data makes it possible to have numerous prototype iterations by making quick changes in design, which significantly accelerates the development phase.
Model testing happens during the product development stage, wherein models are visually and functionally tested and verified before producing the end product. Rapid prototyping reduces errors and costly mistakes with improvements made early in the design stage.
3. Design Versatility, Customization, And Flexible Choice Of Materials
Using 3D printing allows engineers and designers to experiment and create products and different parts with intricate designs, contours, and geometries that they cannot obtain with any other production method. With a flexible choice of materials and a high level of customization, possibilities for innovation and disruption of traditional processes are endless.
Some materials that you can use in 3D printing are:
Out of all the raw materials for 3D printing in use today, plastic is the most common, especially for 3D printed household fixtures and toys.
Advanced 3D printers use powdered polyamide (nylon), aluminide, and different types of powdered metal to create products.
As one of the more limiting materials, the resin is less used in 3D printing, though, it’s suitable for products that have to be smooth to touch and transparent.
Metal is the second-most-used material in the 3D printing industry, especially in making jewelry products and various end-parts and products in the aerospace industry. Through direct metal laser sintering or the DMLS technique, products can be made faster and in higher volumes without painstakingly long hours and detailed manual work.
- Carbon fiber
Carbon fiber is usually used as a top-coat over 3D-printed plastic materials to make the plastic stronger. It’s viewed as a suitable alternative to metal.
Graphene is also a popular material for 3D printing, thanks to its conductivity, flexibility, and strength. It’s used for device parts like touchscreens or for building components and solar panels.
Nitinol is valued for its super-elasticity and, as such, is most commonly used for 3D printing of various medical products.
Designs that are 3D printed on paper give a more detailed and realistic presentation of a project than a flat illustration.
The use of 3D printing will most likely prove to be the manufacturing method of the future as it offers significant production, labor, and machine cost savings. More importantly, it enables companies and individuals to design, develop, and test products in a significantly shorter time and at a fraction of cost compared with traditional manufacturing methods.