Design, CG Graphics & Inspiration

3D Printing – A New Opportunity for Commercial Printers

In recent years, the concept of 3D printing has taken the world by storm, promising to change forever the process involved in manufacturing. The process is also often referred to as additive manufacturing because it adds on layers of materials rather than carving out something by cutting it up. The concept has excited all since for the very first time users got access to a technology that could design and produce prototypes extremely quickly without having to go through the conventional melting, molding, casting, and fabricating route involved in conventional manufacturing.

However with the technology becoming more accessible and inexpensive as well as more capable, a host of options has opened up for businesses that offer low volume but custom-built products. Visit jakprinters.com for more information on how this process is changing the manufacturing landscape.

Why Is 3D Printing So Attractive for Business?

As 3D printing becomes more commercialized by the day with both price and technology barriers collapsing, it has become extremely attractive for businesses, especially small outfits to offer branded goods in very small order quantities and that too at a fraction of the cost of conventional manufacturing. 3D printing thus has carved out a new business model for businesses to offer completely customized products relevant to the needs and aspirations of the target audience. These could be as simple as custom-built guitar picks, dice with custom branding, tile racks for scrabble that have names of each player or fashion jewelry designed by the wearer herself. Under normal circumstances, offering these goods to retailers in the gaming industry, suppliers of handcrafted apparel or music shops would have been prohibitive and practically impossible.

Why Has 3D Printing Become Competitive?

According to experts, 3D printing receivedpositive response from businesses because it eases the pressure to make investments in supply chain and inventory management. Because the quantities are small and customized for the buyer, the logistic costs, the warehousing and cost of storage can be almost completely eliminated. Further, as a manufacturing process, it has become cost-effective because of a number of factors such as the requirement of lesser steps of processing, little assembly and lesser use of energy, while minimizing waste. The process of additive manufacturing also means that it is no longer necessary for manufacturers to produce large quantities of products and parts. The technology of 3D printing permits manufacturers to adopt a direct path from design to production without the intermediary tooling requirement, so not only it saves time but also allows manufacturers to be more agile in meeting customer demands.

The additive technology process also means that parts can be manufactured on demand making inventory and storage a thing of the past. 3D manufacturing also comes in extremely handy for maintaining legacy systems as the required parts can now be manufactured on demand without the necessity of maintaining stock. Learn more on how you can become an economical supplier of custom maintenance parts and services. It needs to be appreciated that additive manufacturing does not compete with traditional manufacturing for replacing it but instead complements it and creates completely new markets, hitherto untapped. The strength of additive manufacturing lies in being able to produce parts that are not possible by conventional manufacturing processes.

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Success Stories in Additive Manufacturing

One company that has successfully adopted rapid prototype manufacturing has already become a key supplier to large OEMs in the defense and aerospace domains. It manufactures a variety of products like air ducts and parts of CT scanners using stainless steel and tungsten, among others. Apart from defense and aerospace, tremendous headway has also been made by companies involved in the medical, tooling, petroleum, consumer products, automotive and electronics industries. All these industries have taken additive manufacturing from the rapid prototyping stage to direct digital manufacturing.

The application of 3D printing is constrained only by imagination; you have implants being made by the medical industry while the electronic industry is successfully using it to embed electronic so that you end up with more functionality in less space. Though even now the cost of additive manufacturing is higher than manufacturing by the conventional process, returns are more than assured due to better performance and increased low volume customization.

  • Jenny Richards,
  • March 18, 2016

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