Traditional manufacturing is subtractive—you remove bits of material from a large piece until you achieve the shape and size you’re looking for. Conversely, 3D printing is an additive manufacturing process. The printer adds material, layer-by-layer, to match the design on the computer file.
While the 3D printing process is often too time-consuming for large production runs, it offers your business some incredible advantages when it comes to prototyping when compared to CNC machining and injection molding. By reducing the time required to work through design, testing, and production, a 3D printing service can save you a lot of money. This blog post will take a closer look at the benefits of using a 3D printing service for rapid prototyping.
Short Lead Times
A 3D printer gathers design data from a computer-aided design (CAD) model and uses it as printing instructions. A 3D printer requires little in terms of set up and doesn’t need custom tooling for your prototype or sample, which would be required with traditional subtractive processes. Depending on the size and complexity of the workpiece, printing will likely finish within a few hours. The range of available materials for 3D printers has expanded considerably in recent years, allowing designers to closely match prototype materials to the final product material in many cases.
If you test the prototype and realize you need to make some adjustments, changes can be incorporated into the design and reprinted easily. This shortened process allows you to move from idea to prototype through testing to improve your speed to market.
Prototyping costs add up for a variety of reasons, but labor is a big one. 3D printing often requires only one technician to turn on the machine and load the design. This offers significant savings over machining or injection molding, which require significant set up and expensive tooling.
Complex geometries and interlocking features are often expensive and difficult—if not impossible—with traditional manufacturing processes. A 3D printing service makes those designs simple to achieve, encouraging greater design innovation and possibility.
Range of Offerings
With 3D printing, you can work with a wide range of materials and finish your printed prototype with paint or clearcoat (or both). This gives you the opportunity to choose materials and finishes that most closely mimic your ideal end product, which is precisely what you need from an effective prototype. Some of the most common material options include:
- PA 12
- Tough PLA
- RIZIUM Carbon
Subtle changes in design make it easy to test form vs. function and understand the sacrifices you may be making in appearance or functionality between design adjustments.
Increased Risk Mitigation
With the opportunity for low-cost testing and prototyping, much of the financial risk associated with launching a new product gets mitigated. You can easily change directions, make alterations to a design, create a variety of slightly different prototypes, and move confidently toward a large production run when you’re sure you’ve made the right choices. 3D printing is trial-and-error made easy.
A 3D printing service can also offer inexpensive proof-of-concept printed samples for you to offer your stakeholders. They may be more likely to move forward with a decision if they can see and touch your idea instead of just hearing about it.
About Custom Color 3D Printing
At Custom Color 3D Printing, we partner with companies in numerous industries for rapid prototyping using a wide range of materials. Our highly skilled design and engineering team work closely with you to bring your ideas to life, and we’re always ready to answer your questions. We’re committed to the highest quality of work and efficient customer care, ensuring your complete satisfaction with your 3D printing service.
Contact us to see how 3D printing can help your business save time and money with rapid prototyping, or to get started on your 3D printed project.