3D printers, is there anything they can’t do? Well, yes, of course, there is quite a lot they can’t do but that’s beside the point, there is a lot they can do and one great application for 3D printers is that they can be used to add speed and flexibility to traditional manufacturing operations.
Tooling is an expensive and risky investment when you’re in the product development phase, with 3D printing you can produce jigs, fixtures, parts and products quickly and inexpensively.
Companies are now able to create precise models of an entire product or part in advance of full-scale manufacturing and production, not only does this save on cost, it saves on time too.
3D modelling allows products and parts to be designed and imaged long before a physical one has been produced, allowing designers to make adjustments and alterations as the product develops whilst leaving an audit trail of the different variations the product or part has undertaken.
It’s common knowledge that 3D prototyping isn’t new to the design, development, engineering and manufacturing communities, it’s been around for years creating buzzes throughout the communities as the technology has advanced and as time has moved on, 3D modelling has become more precise and a lot faster making it an obvious method of production for product developement.
Being able to inspect and understand your product is a huge benefit when it comes to 3D printing, knowing the key features, characteristics and implications of the product provides flexibility when developing the parts for production.
You can have a sample of your product printed, developed and reprinted (a number of times) within a week which is incredibly faster than traditional manufacturing where you would have to wait at least a month or so to see your product prototype once it’s gone through the manufacturing process, not only that, if you get the design of your product wrong and you’ve paid for tooling costs, etc. it's going to be pretty painful to the person holding the purse strings for your project.
It goes without saying, 3d printing is perfect for product design and development, it’s fast, it’s easy and in most cases, inexpensive.