You’ve probably heard of 3D printing by now. If not, it’s the procedure by which an object is created layer-by-layer using a specialized machine (also known as “additive manufacturing”). But it’s not just for experimental engineers or hardcore basement hobbyists; 3D printing has the potential to be a huge business solution for manufacturers.
3D Printing: a Modern Business Solution
While 3D printing was a merely technology enthusiasts fantasy just a few years ago, it is fast becoming a viable path to manufacturing improvements and success for many businesses. By using CAD software and product-configuration tools (such as CPQ from Infor), new tools and components can go from concept to creation in minutes – as opposed to contracting a 3rd party company to do it in weeks.
Here are some of the biggest reasons modern manufacturers should take note of the rising popularity of 3D printing for SMB’s:
1) Increased Production Speed
3D printing eliminates the need for a “middle man” contractor; your organization creates the specific parts you need for each job in-house and in a reduced time frame. Faster production on-premise is the end-goal for most manufacturers.
2) Lowered Costs
From the components involved to the finished product itself, manufacturers who employ 3D printing technology will see great benefits to their bottom line as a result. These costs will continue to decline thanks to the economies of scale.
3) Complex Design Options
As 3D printing technology advances exponentially, so will the abilities available to manufacturers. The level of detail available to the design process will allow for even more customized products and parts.
4) More Materials, More Possibilities
Even though plastic is currently the most used material in 3D printing, it won’t be long before rubber, carbon fiber, and various metals become mainstream. They are already being used and will mean even more options for product innovation.
5) Production Line Integration
Eventually, 3D printing technology will be integrated into the production line of manufacturing organizations. The process for creating products will be directly tied to the printing technology, increasing production time and lowering costs.
3D Printing and Manufacturing: Prepare for the Future
With improvements to manufacturing software and the mainstream introduction of 3D printing into the industry, the future of made-to-order and configured products is full of exciting potential. Manufacturing is often overlooked by the general public as an industry that just “happens” in the background, despite its unseen importance in our daily lives. With 3D printing, people are going to start noticing just how interesting and advanced the manufacturing industry can be – and manufacturers are going to benefit.