You might have already noted some of the innovations that 3D printing has recently brought to the world. Our news feeds regularly feature new and striking examples, from homes and vehicles to delicious edible items and world-class violins.
The good news for you is that this isn’t science fiction anymore. 3D printing is more affordable and accessible than ever before — so much so, that it’s making a big wave across multiple industries.
Should you be riding the crest of that wave, too? Read on to find out more about 3D printing technology and the ways it could work for your business.
How does 3D printing work?
In traditional manufacturing or the production of prototypes or models, a subtractive process is used. Raw materials are taken and are cut, shaped or milled and then manipulated into parts ready for use. 3D printing, however, is an additive method of manufacturing. Parts are built by adding layer upon layer.
A 3D printer takes a raw material and converts it into molten material. It is then guided by a computer to extrude this molten material incredibly precisely to form a thin layer. This process is then repeated until hundreds or thousands of layers are built.
What makes 3D printers incredible is that one machine can make a vast array of different objects with different uses, and with outstanding precision and fine detail, too.
What are its applications for businesses?
Because cost-effective 3D printing (or additive manufacturing as it is often also called) can replace traditional subtractive manufacturing processes, it has quickly become mainstream in many industries. Businesses are using it to streamline the manufacturing of their products or the creation of models and prototypes. The aeronautical and automotive industries are using it to produce parts more efficiently, for example. There is virtually no waste and much less machinery is required with 3D printing.
It’s also possible to produce incredibly high-quality products with very fine detail. So for this reason, the jewelry industry is using 3D printing more and more. Architects and real estate companies are using it for 3D modeling to impress clients or to encourage off-plan investment. The medical and dental industries are using it to create prosthetics.
It’s not just small items that can be efficiently produced. Even buildings can be created using additive manufacturing — and fast, too. In Dubai, we now have the world’s first 3D printed office, which was printed within 17 days and constructed in two. In fact, the city of Dubai is so convinced of the efficiency of 3D printing within the construction industry that it has committed to building a quarter of its buildings this way by 2030.
It’s now time to look at how 3D printing could be a part of your business model as well. Can it improve efficiency? Can it open up new directions or product lines? Can you afford to be left behind?
How could your business benefit from this technology?
There are many applications for 3D printing and it is likely your business will be able to benefit in several ways. Here’s why:
Efficient research and development
Using 3D printing may give you the opportunities to innovate in your field that you have been looking for for years. It brings lots of exciting opportunities to test new ideas and experiment using different materials that may improve product strength, durability, or weight, or may help it become more cost-effective. Dozens of industries are using 3D printing in this way, as far-ranging as fashion to medical to defense and aerospace.
3D printing may also open up customization possibilities for your clients. Individualized prosthetics are one example of where 3D printing is revolutionizing an industry in this way.
Reduced inventory and waste
Because 3D printing is an additive process, less raw materials are needed to create products and prototypes. This has the added advantage that shipping and material handling costs are lowered. It has the potential to reduce employment costs, too. This can be game-changing in industries like construction or in large-scale manufacturing operations.
3D printing is cost-efficient because virtually no raw materials are wasted. If leftover materials are something that causes inefficiencies in your business, then 3D printing should solve the issue.
Faster manufacturing times
3D printing has the potential to drastically improve manufacturing times. Often, the process means that fewer component parts need to be made and thus assembly time is much reduced. Consider also that more of the production process can be automated. This allows your business to scale back on highly skilled workers who can be hard to recruit for.
You may also have the opportunity for very fast prototyping or model making. When you have a high-quality example to show clients or potential clients quickly, this can help projects move quickly, boosting both marketing and profitability. This is how 3D printing services are frequently used by architects, for example.
Can you afford not to invest in 3D printing?
If you are manufacturing anything within your business (either product, model or prototype), then you need to research just how much more profitable and efficient your business could be by switching technology. Whether you invest in your own technology with the help of a 3D printer supplier in Dubai, or you use the services of a 3D printing company, there is bound to be a strong return on investment.
3D printing technology will almost certainly allow your business to broaden its horizons through the implementation of new ideas, designs and improvements to products. This technology means that these can be executed with incredibly fine detail, using delicate operations and high-quality raw materials for highly impressive final results.
A final word of warning
As well as examining the benefits 3D printing could bring to your business, you need to understand how others may already be using it. For example, nimble start-up businesses in your industry are able to take advantage of 3D printing from the beginning. This allows them a head start while you go through the time-consuming process of research, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, decision-making, and then the practical switch of machinery and training. It is very possible you are being left behind by your existing or new competitors already. There is no time to lose.
If you are looking for a 3D printer for professional purposes, expect the cost of your 3D printer to start from about $4000.
With on-demand production, 3D printing allows companies to satisfy the demand for certain parts, without having to consider the high costs of mass-production. This makes the company more agile. Furthermore, it enables a co-creating process between customers and companies, resulting in a customised product.
3D printing uses computer-aided design (CAD) to create three-dimensional objects through a layering method. Sometimes referred to as additive manufacturing, 3D printing involves layering materials, like plastics, composites or bio-materials to create objects that range in shape, size, rigidity and color.