Just Like the Real Thing: 3D Printing in Product Refinement

A common problem that manufacturers often encounter is post-production design changes. This not only slows down the product creation cycle significantly, but can be costly and may cause companies to miss the product's targeted release date.

To alleviate these problems, manufacturers need a faster, more cost-efficient prototyping process, where requests for product changes speed through design cycles. 3D printing makes this a reality.

3D Printing Brings Models to Life

The product cycle begins with engineers and designers using CAD and other software to create a model that meets customer specifications. But a 2D computer model limits the extent to which stakeholders can assess its real-world function and appearance.

However, a 3D printed replica of the CAD model gives manufacturers and even customers something tangible to handle, test, and fully examine. A 3D model can reveal design flaws, and 3D printing makes the redesign process simple and fast.

A major advantage of 3D printing is that it allows manufacturers to design and redesign as many times as necessary, without much additional investment in money or time.

How 3D Technology Can Speed Product Refinement

Manufacturers who turn to 3D printing can achieve a competitive edge, with lower product costs and a quicker production cycle. Instead of taking months to complete a refined prototype, 3D printing lets manufacturers have a prototype or even the final product in-hand within days. When printing is complete, the printed part is ready for testing and inspection.

Product refinements requested late in the traditional design cycle are typically costly and can delay product launches. But with 3D technology, designers can test a design before making an investment. That capability reduces risk and slashes costs, giving companies an edge over their competitors in time-to-market.

3D printers can use many different types of materials, including metals and plastics. This advanced technology can recreate textures, finishes and colors to mirror how the final product will look. It's also possible to create highly complex geometries and functioning models.