What do all of the companies to the left have in common?
All have integrated additive manufacturing into their business operations!
Of course these are large corporations, but an increasing number of sole proprietorships are coming to appreciate the advantages additive manufacturing offers them. Certainly, this technology is a boon to the auto and airplane maker, but not less so to the local plumber down the street.
No matter what your business produces, no matter how large or small your organization, additive manufacturing can streamline your processes and save you money.
Why is this?
BENEFITS OF ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING (AM)
Additive manufacturing (AM) is an innovation in manufacturing processes that mitigates existing production and product development trade-offs. The result? Reduced capital is required to affect scale and scope of production.
- Less capital is required to achieve economies of scale.
- Barriers to entry into a given product market are lowered.
- Return on investment is maximized.
- Greater production flexibility and product customization is available per unit of capital.
- Marketplace differentiation is maximized.
That’s the big picture!
More specifically, here are some of the ways AM can impact producers:
- AM streamlines scheduling efficiencies
- Rapid prototyping: Traditionally, prototype development involves custom tooling, coordination with external suppliers, and multiple hand-offs. Along with the delays, there is risk of miscommunication. AM largely eliminates these delays and risks.
- Rapid design iteration: Reworking of a design ordinarily involves substantial effort and time since the production process must start again from the beginning. AM allows for seamless prototype creation and expedites design iteration.
- Strategic alignment: 3D printing new product designs not only enables technical validation, but also accelerates your organization’s alignment on that new design—a key success factor, but often overlooked.
- AM reduces costs
- Less need for outsourcing: Traditional manufacturing methods (including creating manufacturing prints and layouts, programming CNC machines, and designing tooling) have historically defined the cost structure. However, with AM, prototypes can now be created inexpensively and in-house, without need for change orders.
- Material reduction: Elimination of scrap and tooling often offset the higher per-volume costs of raw materials. AM can therefore dramatically reduce a prototype’s total material cost.
- AM enhances product
- Iterative design: Accelerated prototyping means more design and review cycles during product development.
- Designer empowerment: Faster and cheaper prototyping reduces barriers to testing new product concepts. This cultivates innovation.
- Stakeholder input: Because AM allows in-house product development, stakeholders inside and outside the company can more easily discourse with the designer and each other.
- Market responsiveness: Producers can respond faster to market and customer demands, fix design flaws, and counter the competition.
- AM simplifies manufacturing
- Improved part characteristics: A design’s geometric complexity can be improved without great expense. In-house designers can incorporate complex curvatures, nonstandard and varying wall thicknesses, and low-density volumetric filling easily and inexpensively.
- Customer-specific product creation: Product iterations can be made-to-order for a given customer.
- Decreased system complexity: Components that previously needed assembly can often be 3D printed as a single unit — reducing system complexity and enhancing quality.
- Nontraditional sources of design information: As product designs become increasingly digitized, opportunities for reverse engineering increase.
- AM Reduces Constraints
- Production location: Design and manufacturing can now happen virtually anywhere. Companies can dramatically reduce the cost and logistics of moving products from manufacturing locations to end users.
- Tooling constraints: Product design is no longer constrained by mold and tooling requirements. The design process is now accessible and there is headway for invention.
- Batch size: A truly single-unit minimum batch size allows on-the-spot production of short-run components as users wear them down in the field or imagine ways to customize them.
- Waste: Material waste is minimized as designers and manufacturers find ways to complete tasks with less material and energy, and as AM components replace tooled parts.
It’s an impressive list, isn’t it?
With such a vast array of benefits, you might be asking yourself how and where AM would fit within your organization.
The introduction and effective use of of a new process is not merely a matter of an equipment purchase. i3D can walk you though a Seven-Step Assessment to help determine where additive manufacturing can best fit in your organization. We will help you maximize its benefits within your organization so you can chart a path to the future.