Is Your Part Worth 3D Printing?
In recent years, 3D printing has become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional manufacturing methods. A wide range of industries now leverage this innovative technology for applications ranging from robotics to automotive parts to Invisalign retainers.
But just because you can 3D print practically any part doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
For an additive manufacturing project to be successful, it’s important to have a clear business reason for using this technology.
So how do you know if your part is worth 3D printing? Alchemy Industrial created a brief 3D printing assessment to help you find the answer. If you respond “yes” to 3 or more of these questions, your part might be a good candidate for 3D printing.
Alchemy Industrial’s 3D Printing Assessment
1. Can I save money with 3D printing?
If you’re making thousands of identical parts, injection molding is probably still your best option. But if you’re dealing with multiple rounds of iterations, customized products, or low-volume production quantities, 3D printing can be a cost-effective alternative.
When estimating the overall cost of your project, be sure to include blind expenses like lead time, turnaround, iteration, and even transportation fees. 3D printing is a localized, on-demand solution that can reduce many of those costs.
2. Do I need my part ASAP?
Because 3D printing is much faster than CNC machining and injection molding, it’s an ideal solution for prototypes, show parts, and exhibit models. It’s also perfect for spare parts that are difficult and expensive to replace. It’s possible to digitize those parts and have them 3D printed within 48 hours.
3. Will 3D printing mitigate the impact of global supply chain risks?
The COVID-19 pandemic showed just how vulnerable global supply chains are in the face of unpredictable events. The idea that a product with 1,000 parts made all over the world can come together easily to produce a finished piece is becoming more and more impractical and unrealistic.
If your global supply chain is slowing you down, 3D printing can help alleviate that burden.
4. Does my part have complex geometries?
Parts with exceptionally complex geometries are difficult (if not impossible) to machine. But 3D printing allows you to design intricate features without having to worry about what’s possible.
If you have a part that controls the flow of fluids or needs to be lightweight for weight reduction purposes, 3D printing is a great solution for achieving complex internal geometries.
5. Is the right 3D printing technology available to solve my problem?
You may very well have a solid business reason for 3D printing a part. But if current equipment or material technology isn’t advanced enough to meet your critical requirements, you’re better off sticking with a conventional manufacturing method for now.
Additive manufacturing technology is evolving more and more every day, so if it’s not there quite yet, it could be very soon.
6. Do I have flexibility with the required testing, validation, and quality processes?
Testing, validation, and quality processes are well-established in conventional manufacturing. But since 3D printing is such a relatively new technology, comparable processes for additive manufacturing are still evolving.
If you need to validate your part within certain standards, those regulations may not yet exist for 3D printing. If you answered “yes” to 3 or more of these questions, it’s time to seriously consider 3D printing in Houston and beyond! Contact Alchemy Industrial to discuss options for integrating additive manufacturing into your business.