Casting, moulding, and machining are all traditional manufacturing methods used for component production – but 3D printing is becoming mainstream too.
Short, reliable lead times and digital warehousing aside, 3D printing offers a range of other value add solutions that can improve product performance and save money compared to conventional manufacturing techniques.
Here’s five of them:
Producing parts that are lighter, without compromising performance, requires the use of lattice or mesh structures that can be prohibitively expensive using traditional subtractive or formative production methods.
This cost barrier is easily overcome with 3D printing. Known for making light work of complex geometries, 3D printing can deliver the weight reduction you need, while maintaining the strength and robustness required for optimal component performance.
Many components are manufactured in pieces and assembled afterwards because of inherent restriction in traditional production methods. Using 3D printing to produce production volume parts affords design freedoms that could allow you to consolidate complex assembles of different parts into a single printable design.
This not only saves on labour and resources (sometimes making an entire assembly line obsolete), but also improves the appearance and functionality of the final product.
Easy ergonomics for ease of use
When creating a device for manual operation, curved, organic shapes are often preferable. Ergonomic shapes are often difficult and expensive to produce, especially with subtractive manufacturing methods.
Improving user experience with curved ergonomic designs is far easier with 3D printing, and can be achieved without additional costs or production time.
Incorporating logos and serial numbers
Embedding logos or serial numbers into the design of a component offers a quality finish and can remove a step from post-production assembly.
There are practical advantages too. When permanent logos or markings are required throughout the component’s operational life, embedding them into the component material will prevent the loss of stickers over time.
The rise in orthotic teeth aligners is a perfect example of mass customisation using 3D printing, and the concept of offering personalised elements to mass produced parts is becoming increasingly popular in other sectors too.
With 3D printing, your stock is held in a virtual warehouse, where your designs can be iterated and printed on demand, with fast lead times and no minimum order quantity. This enables manufacturers to offer customisable options at the point of purchase for high-value items.
Margins of gain with small tweaks
By making small tweaks to your component design process, it is possible to see small margins of gain in profit and product performance.
There are plenty of other ways 3D printing can add value, why not share your next design with us to learn more? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.