As a prototyping company, we have the opportunity to work with all types of manufacturing methods: vacuum forming, injection molding, CNC, lathing, and more. The method that we work with most though is 3D Printing, or additive manufacturing as it is known in industry. So what is it that makes 3D printing so special? What makes us come back to it time and time again when we have all these other tools at our disposal?
3D Printing Is Fast. People don’t want their product to take months between development steps. Once we have our design work done on the computer it’s often a matter of minutes until we start printing. It surprises many people to hear that parts sometimes take 10-20 hours to print, but that is still much faster than any alternative.
3D Printing Is Versatile. Hollow models, solid models, and everywhere in between. We can print just about any shape you can imagine. 3D printing gives us the power to design prototypes without worrying about how to pop the shape out of a mold. One of the best examples of this it that 3D printing allows us to print objects that have internal structure. The picture below is an excellent example.
3D Printing Is Affordable. What is the set-up, casting, and mold making cost for a new 3D print design? None. Once we design something we can just go straight ahead and print it. This limits the cost of a 3D print prototype to design and material alone. Keeping the price down is one of the best features of 3D printing, allowing us to go through as many iterations as are needed to make the product perfect.
Internal Structure Example from Thingiverse: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:90486