3D printing is being incorporated in many manufacturing processes and it will become the playground of the design community. Commercial applications can be limited by lack of proper prototyping. Industrial 3D printing should allow us to reach the tipping point and we will be able to revolutionize the marketplace. As quality rises and production costs continue to drop, we will be able to ensure higher sales and profitability. Here are seven ways 3D printing already becomes a disruptive force in the manufacturing sector :
- True Rapid Prototyping can be Achieved: 3D printing has been available at different stages of sophistication in the past two decades. Designers are able to create physical replicas with increasing degree of accuracy and complexity. Latest 3D technology allows for rapid prototyping and it only takes hours to deliver a single piece of prototype.
- Rapid Design Iterations: 3D printing allows for rapid design iteration to ensure faster market testing. Without 3D printing, it will take months and a lot of money to test a prototype engine or other complex products. When working with designers and manufacturers in China, clients are able to take advantage of the enormous reduction in costs and time. With 3D printing, it is even possible to simultaneously test numerous versions. We should no longer be bound by industrial process constraints. A team can even explore a dozen of variation at one time and they can be tested rigorously. Latest 3D printing technologies are enough to blur the line between prototypes and the actual products and components.
- Low Volume Production can still be Efficient: With conventional production process, people need to create special molds and tools to produce customized components. Creating a single mold may cost $50,000 or higher. It’s acceptable if we want to create 100,000 parts, but what if we need only 1000 parts or less? There are minimal set up costs for clients who want to test the market response by releasing small quantity of products.
- Mass Customization: Customers have unique requirements and often, we can’t release one-size-fits-all products. With mass customizations, it is possible to implement small customizations in each group of products. It’s theoretically possible to customize every single device to increase profits and better serve customers.
- Virtual Inventory: Manufacturers typically release new products each year and this requires a huge array of spare parts that are not interchangeable between products. Producing large quantities of parts can be quite difficult, if we are dealing with multiple new products and categories. Costs of storing physical inventory relate to lost parts, warehousing, obsolescence, tracking and insurance. Virtual inventory is more efficient, because we can use 3D printing to make parts on demand. Business operations can be made more efficient and as virtual inventory is implemented, profits will soar high.
- Old Models can be Retained Longer: 3D printing has become quite disruptive in the initial production stages and it is no longer necessary to create years’ worth of inventory in warehouses. Today, an older fridge model that no longer has door seal or shelves in the inventory or distribution channel can be completely scrapped from the market. If some spare parts are depleted and no longer be produced, a product model can be considered as obsolete. With 3D printing, we should be able to keep products in the market longer. Disposal and recycling costs of older models can be reduced or even be eliminated. Any parts that are no longer available or produced can be created at lower costs, until all units are sold. 3D printing also improves customer support for repairing products with parts that are no longer produced by the manufacturer.
- 3D Printing Offers low Entry Barriers: It is possible for us to create parts that are radically more complex. This technology allows us to achieve higher innovation. Designers, engineers and clients should be able to rethink their products, making innovation more likely to happen. With China Assured, clients are able to find manufacturers with excellent design flexibility and rapid implementations of design on the production floor. Complex parts, such as fuel injection systems for cars can be made quickly using 3D printing using the actual material, similar to the one used in final products. 3D printing will encourage innovation renaissance in any company.