Implementing additive manufacturing can nowadays give you an advantage over the competition in your industry. These advantages lie where conventional technology currently has its limitations. For example, 3D printing of metal offers you a high degree of weight, time and cost savings, design freedom, optimization and stock management. Below you can find five of the biggest benefits of metal 3D printing.
Metal 3D printing gives you the possibility to rapidly develop and improve prototypes. The prototyping phase is often lengthy and costly. Many costs are often incurred in this phase of product development. Iterations are also time consuming when choosing machining or casting. With 3D printing there are no costs for adjusting a mold, but clients can already have an improved prototype within a week in a cost-effective way. One-off production is possible too. Additive manufacturing has no economic batch size. This makes it possible to create custom-made, one-off products, which is perfect if you are looking to create prototypes made of metal.
Speed and cost of 3D printing
Unfortunately, every production process requires preparation. But compared to machining or casting, 3D printing takes a lot less preparation time. With conventional techniques this is not only the production time, but also the time required to produce a mold. This ensures that the duration and additional costs of 3D printing are a lot lower. Because no molds or specific writing programs are required for 3D printing, it is possible to realize a product within a few hours. This depends on the product and process specifications and availability in the printers, but usually the lead times are short. Thanks to the short preparation time, the prototype phase of a new product is considerably faster with 3D printing. This results in very fast development and enables a short time-to-market. Where conventional techniques sometimes require three months for casting, the 3D printed products can be ready within a week.
3D printing is often the fastest production method when complex spare parts are required and suitable parts cannot be supplied on demand. With additive manufacturing, even the most complex parts can be printed directly. You can also have less stock, which is useful as spare parts are capital intensive. With additive manufacturing, you are able to obtain spare parts on request and at short notice. Furthermore, replacement parts can be optimized. Replacement parts can be an improvement on the original parts and thus improve the performance of the machine. Additive manufacturing makes this optimization possible, without extra costs or delayed delivery.
As no extensive preparations are required for 3D printing, you will have low set-up costs. Setting up machines and materials is essentially all you have to do. Molds will not have to be created for example, which takes a lot of time when using other manufacturing methods. Furthermore, 3D printing is also interesting in the start-up process. Revisions can be made and the products can be checked at an early stage, reducing potential failure costs in the long run.
Freedom of form
It does not matter with 3D printing whether the design has a free form or consists of clean lines. There are, after all, no additional costs for a complex design in the production technology. On top of that, freedom of form immediately makes it possible to manufacture practical products with complex shapes. Think of a hinged product made as one part, a model with channels or a hollow product. You can also add very complex internal structures such as honeycomb and lattice structures. These will be produced excellently with the 3D printing technology. This is also the case when you add porous structures to your 3D design.