Not all products and parts can or should be 3D printed, but 3D printing offers many benefits throughout the manufacturing process. As shown in the accompanying infographic, 3D printing applications are commonly used for proof of concept models, prototyping, product development and some production.
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The benefits of 3D printing include:
3D printed applications save time because they are used for proof of concept models to verify the testing, fit and functionality of parts before being injection molded. This process speeds up the overall manufacturing cycle and get products to market faster.
Production of parts on demand via 3D printing ensures product availability and offers opportunities for customization that traditional methods do not. Running small batches on demand lets manufacturers launch new products more frequently. Low-volume production improves customer satisfaction and loyalty, which helps grow the business.
3D printed parts can be used as a fully functional prototype, adjustments and errors can easily be made in the design phase – which means mistakes are discovered when it is less costly before moving those parts into the production phase. It allows for a hands-on physical product to review, to get your product to look and feel the way you want it and receive detailed feedback to help guarantee your product’s success.
While manufacturers will not replace the entire production process with 3D printing, 3D printing can play an important role. Companies should determine which parts and applications are best suited to this new technology, and fit 3D printing into their overall production in order to remain competitive.