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How 3D Printing is helping the Product Prototyping Industry

 
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Over the past few years, 3D printing has managed to completely revolutionize the way in which new products are being designed. Having the ability to convert a simple vision into reality within a few hours at most has the ability to speed up the manufacturing cycle, which in turn provides a range of other benefits as well. Thanks to the versatility level of 3D printers, almost any shape – even those that are extremely complex – can now be prototyped.

Save Time and Money

Being able to replicate items with a 3D printer within a matter of hours – or even minutes in some cases – has enabled many production lines to increase their output levels substantially. In addition, 3D printing technology means that companies will no longer have to spend as long as 6 months along with thousands of dollars on custom machine tools to assist with the prototyping process – engineers are now able to test their latest ideas and creations by clicking a few buttons instead. Over the long term, the amount of money that can be saved will literally amount to millions.

Reduce Rework and Wastage

The later a problem is discovered within a product design, the more it will cost to rectify. However, using 3D printing to develop prototypes means that far more revisions of a product can be worked with in less time, which enables more thorough testing to be done before anything is released to the consumer market. In cases where major defects are detected while prototypes are being produced, it could result in substantial savings for manufacturers in that they will not have to recall faulty products at a later stage.

Test before Committing to Investment

Many types of 3D printing materials have the ability to produce durable yet functional prototypes that can be used for highly accurate performance testing or even models that will feel and look exactly the same as a company’s finished products. This means that manufacturers are able to see whether it will be economically viable to go ahead and invest in the tooling that will be needed to create the prototyped products on a larger scale or not. In addition, if a final production process requires any form of molds, layups or patterns, it is possible to 3D print some basic or temporary tooling devices as well.

Motor Industry Using 3D Printing for Prototyping

Ford has admitted to keeping its development costs down by making use of 3D printing technology instead of traditional machine tools. The company said that it used it to develop, test and produce the drivetrain for its latest hybrid vehicle this way. As time goes on, it is expected that more and more vehicle manufacturers will follow this route in an effort to cut costs and improve turnaround times on their production lines.

As times goes on, the cost of 3D printers will decrease and they will become more easily available to end consumers. This will result in prototypes being available quicker than ever before.

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