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The benefits of 3D printing

23 November 2015

3D PrinterThere has been a lot of coverage about 3D printing so we’ve delved into this subject and come up with some key benefits to consider:

1. Quick to market: 3D printing allows ideas to develop faster than ever. Being able to 3D print a concept the same day it was designed reduces a development process from possibly months to a few days, helping companies stay ahead of the competition.

2. Reduce cost: Prototyping injection mould tools and production runs are expensive investments. The 3D printing process allows the creation of parts at rates much lower than traditional machining.

3. Mitigate risk: Being able to verify a design before investing in an expensive moulding tool is worth £1000s in savings. Printing a production-ready prototype builds confidence before making these large investments. It is far cheaper to 3D print a test prototype then to redesign or alter an existing mould.

4. Clear communication: Describing the product you are going to deliver (often to overseas factories) can sometimes be misinterpreted since it leaves construction up to the imagination. A picture of the product is better than the description since it is worth 1,000 words…but getting to hold the tangible proposed product clears all lines of communication. There is no ambiguity when holding the exact, or at least a very close, representation of the product.

5. Feedback: With a prototype you can test the market by unveiling it at a trade show and showing it to potential buyers. Getting buyers’ response to the product before it actually goes into production is a valuable way to verify the product has market potential.

6. Feel it: Especially for those kinesthetics among us!! One thing you can’t get from a picture or virtual prototype on the computer screen is the way something feels in your hand. If you want to ensure the ergonomics and fit of a product are just right, you must actually hold it, use it and test it.

7. Personalise it: With standard mass-production, all parts come off the assembly line or out of the mould the same. With 3D printing, you can personalise, customise and tweak a part to uniquely fit its needs, which allows for custom fits in the medical and dental industries and helps set people apart in the fashion and jewellery world.

8. Build your imagination: …the possibilities are not only accelerating but limitless. You can now 3D print almost anything you imagine after drawing it up virtually. In a relatively short time, an idea, concept, dream or invention can go from a simple thought to a produced part that you can hold. Amazing!

9. Quirky design? The limitations of standard machining have constrained product design for years. With the improvements in 3D manufacturing, now the possibilities are endless. Design that has been historically difficult or impossible to build – for example holes that change direction or unrealistic overhangs – are now possible and actually simple to construct.

10. If you are going to fail – do it cheaply!!: Being able to test ideas quickly and discover what doesn’t work speeds discovery leading to an ideal solution. 3D printing allows a product developer to make breakthroughs at early stages that are relatively inexpensive leading to better products and less expensive dead-ends.

At MBM Omega we offer a range of 3D printers and consumables which can all be ordered online.

James Morton, managing director, MBM Omega