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3D Printing Advantages
3D printing is a newer technology, and it can be easy to want to rely on the older, traditional manufacturing methods that have worked for years now. However, 3D printing does have several advantages over traditional manufacturing that can help you in your product development process. In this article, we’ll discuss the primary advantages of 3D printing, including how it can lower production costs, allow more complex geometry, and be used as a digital inventory.
One of the primary draws for 3D printing is how cost-effective it can be. 3D printed parts are made via single step manufacture, meaning that they don’t go through different manufacturing stages on a variety of machines. Rather, only one machine – the 3D printer – is used to create the entire part, which makes it so that you save on machine operating costs. Along with this, 3D printers do not need supervision as other traditional manufacturing machines might. After the print is set to run, they can be left alone until it is done. This cuts cost on labor because one person can run many machines and not need to supervise them during production.
With 3D printing, you are using a process called additive manufacturing. This means that material is added to a build platform layer by layer until your part is complete. This is completely different from subtractive manufacturing, which carves away material from a blank. The additive manufacturing process can cut costs because it uses the exact amount of material you need for your part rather than cutting away chunks and wasting a sizable portion of material. On top of this, because of the nature of additive manufacturing, no molds or other tooling are needed to create your part, which can reduce your production costs drastically.
Finally, wanting to 3D print your part does not mean you need to invest in a 3D printer. You can bypass this hefty purchase and choose to outsource your production instead. This can help you ensure that your part is being produced correctly by trained professionals while keeping your costs much lower.
It is important to note that 3D printing may not prove financially beneficial for large-volume productions. Traditional manufacturing is still better for producing large volumes because the speed at which parts can be made outweighs the setup costs. For more about production volumes, their manufacturing costs, and economy of scale, read our article comparing 3D printing and injection molding.