3D Printing and Prototyping
Taking an idea and turning it into a working product is one of the most difficult things to do. On paper, a product might work seamlessly, but when put into practice, all sorts of weaknesses and problems begin to appear. Fortunately, 3D printing has enabled prototypes to be produced quickly and accurately, providing manufacturers with a working model for their next idea.
Why Choose 3D Printing for Prototyping Your Product?
For prototyping, 3D printing offers several advantages that make it one of the best options for creating, testing, and getting a product to market.
- Faster Production: When comparing the speeds of 3D printing verse other conventional manufacturing methods, the speed of 3D printing is like comparing a car to a horse. Sure, there are some fast horses out there, but they’ll never be able to compete with a car. 3D printing production for a prototype can take just a few hours, allowing a manufacturer to test ideas and finalize designs faster than any alternative method.
- A Better Quality Prototype: Although a prototype is not necessarily the final product, it’s important to have a prototype that works as intended. Imagine two different people cooking a meal using the same exact ingredients. One is a world class chef with numerous award winning restaurants and the other is a chef for your local fast food joint. Sure, they’ll both be able to make a meal out of the ingredients, but only one is going to make something great. That is the difference between the quality of 3D printed prototypes and prototypes created by other methods.
- Cost Effective: When developing a prototype, costs play a big role in its development. Conventional prototyping methods are quite labor intensive, requiring a lot of hands-on work from experienced machine operators and technicians, making costs extraordinarily high. With 3D printing, labor can be as little as one person pressing the print button. 3D printing is one of the most affordable prototyping options on the market.
- Endless Shapes and Designs: Relying on molds and machinery to cut or form materials, conventional prototyping methods are often limited in their application. Not so with 3D printing. With the right material, a 3D printed prototype can be fashioned into just about anything. There are a near infinite number of products available to be 3D printed.
- Easy Accommodation of Materials: Between glass, metals, papers, ceramics, biomaterials, and plastics, 3D printing can accommodate a wide variety of different materials, making prototyping easier than ever. Many traditional prototyping methods do not have this flexibility as they are limited by their tools and machinery.
- Less Waste: Other manufacturing processes often result in a lot of wasted material and resources. Processes that involve cutting or molding a material often see large amounts of material discarded as waste. 3D printing, however, only uses the material that is needed to create the product. There’s little to no waste, and to make matters even better, the materials used in a 3D printed prototype can often be reused, further reducing the waste and maximizing efficiency.
- Risk Reduction: Proper design is crucial to the success of a product. Investing in a product whose design has not thoroughly been tested is a recipe for disaster, a risk that should not be taken. Between the low cost and the fast production times of a 3D printed prototype, 3D printing effectively lowers the risk of investment into a poorly designed product. 3D printing enables product designers to verify the prototype, ensuring its strength and integrity before it is mass produced.