With the development of more effective and efficient 3D printers in the last few years, the manufacturing industry has seen something that would drastically change the way they conduct business. Additive layer manufacturing, or commonly known as 3D printing, has become a key player in product development. Before this technology, 3D prototyping—the process of creating a sample of a product to test it before regular production takes place—takes a quite some time to complete, along with a hefty price tag.
With the aid of 3D printing, manufacturers and makers can have a quick and cost-effective way to meet customers’ demands and specifications. It is already expected that rapid 3D prototyping will be an extended service of companies that provided computer-aided designs services in the very near future. Manufacturers, after collaborating with their clients about the design and creating the CAD drawing, no longer have to send out the digital copy for it to be machined or molded in the production department, which would take quite a few days to complete. This traditional process becomes more costly and inefficient if there are any changes in the design because the same procedure needs to be done again—revising CAD drawing, sending digital product design out to be molded, and then evaluating finished product. It is eating time and money in the process.
“Using 3D technology, the prototyping time is cut down from days or weeks to mere hours.”
Brainstorming of new product design has never been more exciting. The 3D printing technology allows both clients and manufacturers to see the feasibility of the product created and evaluate further for improvements in just a very short period of time. Whatever changes needed can be applied and reviewed through 3D printing. This process can only take hours, a great improvement of time consumed compared to the traditional process of creating samples, which can take days and weeks. The sample production cost is also lowered significantly.
The use of 3D printers is indeed a very big leap in 3D prototyping. The cost-effective and fast way to create product models has the potential of boosting any company’s service, growth, and sales. It still might take another two to three years of refinement before 3D printing can be perfected, but whatever it is offering today has already creating a buzz of drastic changes in the manufacturing department of many industries. To help you imagine the consequences, read “5 Ways of Redefining Consumption” elsewhere on this site.
Whether the technology which aids rapid 3D prototyping will live up to its hype or settles to become one of the rich men’s toys, it is for the creators of this product to determine. Looking at the stock price of a major prototyping company like ProtoLabs, we believe it will. For now, tinkerers can just take advantage of this technology by creating their complex and intricate designs that have been hiding for so long and have it come to life through 3D printing. Either way, the chances of consumers getting their products in their hands just got a bit higher…