Vice President of Public Relations
The five benefits of 3D printing.
It doesn't matter if the new idea has wheels, flies, or travels via rails, 3D printing offers many benefits over traditional processes, such as speed-to-market, lower costs and reduced waste. See our top five reasons to invest in 3D printing:
1. Advance time-to-market turnaround.
Consumers want products that work for their lifestyle. Runners want lighter running shoes which means using lighter materials. Gamers want seamless, lifelike experiences which means systems with faster and more intelligent processors. Drivers want vehicles that make commuting easier, wanting cars that almost drive themselves. All consumers want products that work well and they want them now, and it's up to manufacturers to meet these demands. 3D printing can help to meet increasing customer demand for new products by reducing design-to-production times. With 3D printing, designers develop ideas using CAD software. They then send these designs to be 3D printed to build functional prototypes. Engineers and designers can then use these 3D printed models to evaluate the design and test features. This process takes just days to complete, compared to traditional processes which could take weeks.
2. Save on tooling costs with on-demand 3D printing.
Tools and fixtures are special parts, designed by manufacturing engineers, to solve specific problems on the factory floor. Since each tool is often custom-made, they can be extremely costly and time consuming to make. Creating new tools to replace broken ones mean lost manufacturing time, so reducing the time to replace tools can significantly reduce costs. 3D-printed tools can be replaced in hours rather than days and today's high-strength plastics are strong, lightweight and far less expensive.
3. Reduce waste with additive manufacturing.
In the automotive industry, many parts are built using CNC machining processes. Known as subtractive manufacturing, parts start out as a solid block of aluminum or steel. Different tools remove material until the final part emerges. The biggest problem with this type of manufacturing is the waste generated during the process. Metal shavings need to be collected, cleaned and recycled, adding both time and cost. Cooling fluids, which reduce heat and friction during machining, are also costly and require recycling. The 3D printing process eliminates much of this clean-up saving time and reducing waste.
4. Improve lives, one customized part at a time.
3D printing is making a huge impact on people who need artificial limbs. Prosthetics are complex, sophisticated systems built to replace human body parts. Each product must fit the particular patient in order to be effective. 3D printing revolutionizes the process of designing and building artificial limbs because it is completely customizable. According to Jason Bara, an associate professor at the University of Alabama, "The most challenging part is to tailor the prosthetic to the patient, taking measurements, etc. The design process is entirely digital after that, and with a reliable 3D printer, the prosthetic could be produced within hours to a few days at most."
5. Save weight with complex part designs.
Aerospace companies are always looking for ways to save weight on their airplanes. Every ounce saved means more weight is available for passengers or cargo. But it's crucial to maintain the strength and integrity of the aircraft. Designers often use complex matrix designs to achieve this. These parts are difficult to produce with traditional machining techniques. 3D printing is a perfect solution for building these complex parts.
Reap the benefits of 3D printing.
3D printing has changed manufacturing. With the unparalleled ability to increase speed-to-market, lower costs and customize specialty parts, it is driving innovation and sparking new technologies. Considering how large the impact has been since its debut, we can surely expect the benefits of 3D printing to keep expanding over time.