Many engineers and product developers are coming around to appreciate the benefits that come with 3D printing over the traditional product design models. Also, additive manufacturing procedures such as filament based fused deposition modeling, laser curing and powder bed fusion machines also make low volume production cost efficient.
There is a significant potential for cost reduction in prototyping, which is primarily made possible by 3D printing. Companies across different industries are using the 3D printing to accelerate their production while cutting on costs.
Here are a few examples
There are several 3D-printed waveguide support brackets on Lockheed Martin’s Juno spacecraft orbiting around Jupiter
Medical engineering scientists have created 3D printed prosthetic limbs around the world.
Boing has built the world largest 3D printed fixture that was used for the construction of Boing 777
3D printing lowers costs for everyone in many ways. Here are a few ways that cost reduction is made possible:
Optimizing the design of the item
3D printing follows the same rules that were set for injection moulding. Gradual transitions are made between adjoining surfaces and large differences dealt with in part volume and the cross-section. Many other things can be optimized such as thin unsupported walls and sharp corners that create residual stress. This eliminates the trial and error, which often causes wastage of materials.
Create a refreshing new design
3D printing helps incorporate organic shapes like complex matrices and honeycombs that are not possible in many traditional prototyping technologies. At the end of the production, you get a design that is lighter and still stronger. Solid block material is very expensive and heavy. Drilling holes mean less material waste and energy cost in regards to creating more power to support the added weight.
Reduction of the labour costs
3D printings take part of a significant number of workers without additional cost. In many prototyping and product development cycles, the whole team is involved in every piece of production. Several steps have to be repeated even in the case where the prototype is being replicated as an earlier design. On the other hand, 3D printing enables a few people to work on a project while the rest can be engaged in other activities.
Reduction in production steps
In many product development processes, there are a lot of machining steps that are not only cumbersome but also very expensive. Additive technology requires less of the machining steps. There is also the reduction of overall product development cycle.
Lower the footprint of the overall cost of production
Factory footprint is vital when evaluating the total cost of production. With the reduction of the number of steps, additive technology makes the factory cost a less significant part of the entire production cost. This plays a huge role in the reduction of the overall production cost.
Elimination of patterns and moulds
One of the greatest benefits of additive technologies is the removal of patterns and moulds from the process. The moulds and patterns cost money and increase the lead times. Additive technologies eliminate the expensive tooling and save on time too.
3D printing is revolutionizing industries across the board. However, the costs saving benefits of the technology have not been fully realized given that there is still untapped potential in the technology.
Companies that want to remain competitive in their respective industries need to consider cost reduction strategies. It is always said that profits are made at the factory and not at the marketplace. 3D printing is one of the most effective ways to cut the cost without hurting the quality of the final product. In fact, in some cases, 3D printing enhances the products under consideration.
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