How 3D Printing Is Changing Manufacturing

Manufactures develop prototypes of their products to test and modify them before they go into mass production. This is usually done by outsourcing the prototyping to a company with a CNC machine, which is expensive and time consuming.

The most expensive part of this conventional prototyping process is setting up the production line and the cost of materials. The price per prototype becomes even more expensive when the company only needs to produce a few.

3D printing has provided companies with an alternative prototyping method that is less expensive than outsourcing to a traditional machine shop. It also allows the company to easily print as few or as many prototypes as they need.

Creating prototypes

When you use a 3D printer, you will be able to print and iterate multiple designs at an affordable cost, and you will no longer need to wait a week for an outsourced prototype. You can simply design your prototype within a day, and print three iterations overnight.

3D printing materials are much cheaper than that of conventional prototyping. This enables designers and engineers to work faster and use resources more efficiently.

Should I outsource my 3D printing or do it myself?

Companies that outsource their 3D printing typically do so because they are not experienced using a 3D printing machine themselves. The time and cost it takes to develop your own 3D prototype will vary based upon the intricacy of the design. However, many companies experience significant saving and expediency when they decide to print in-house.

3D printing tools for manufacturers

3D printers are able to print amazing objects such as prosthetic arms and even human organs. However, 3D printers are equally as capable to print everyday items such as injection moldings, jigs, and fixtures.

When manufactures order tools such as jigs and fixtures, it can take weeks for it arrive. With 3D printing, you can have tools ready in a matter of hours. This increases the overall productivity of any company’s manufacturing process.

Jigs, fixtures, and other tools are fairly expensive to purchase because they are produced in low quantities. Companies can easily cut down on cost by producing these items with a 3D printer instead of purchasing from a vendor.

Take for example a car manufacturer that contracts work overseas to get tools they need for a new manufacturing line. In some cases it can take up to several months to receive these tools. Additionally there are occasional errors in the produced specification of the tools, these problems can present significant setbacks for the manufacturers. 3D printing on the other hand enables manufacturers to produce what they need when they need it, without relying on a third party vendor.

3D printing benefits many industries

No matter your industry, if you have items, tools or prototypes that you currently outsource, 3D printing can save you time and money. 3D printing allows bigger companies to focus on producing larger quantities at a faster pace, while smaller companies can focus on the quality and iteration of design.

If you’re interested in learning how 3D printing can benefit you and your business, give us a call at 281.583.7552, or contact us online.