Why in-house pro­duc­tion is the best op­tion

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - 3D TECHNOLOGY -

The ben­e­fits of 3D print­ing and rapid pro­to­typ­ing are nu­mer­ous and well recog­nised. Whether it’s de­sign val­i­da­tion, func­tional testing or faster launch of new prod­ucts, ex­ec­u­tives sel­dom need to be to be con­vinced of the ben­e­fits.

Still, many busi­nesses con­tinue to out­source 3D print­ing be­cause they be­lieve own­er­ship is cost pro­hib­i­tive. What many com­pa­nies don’t re­alise is that 3D print­ing has ad­vanced dra­mat­i­cally; the avail­abil­ity of a new breed of high-qual­ity 3D print­ers at af­ford­able prices now dis­cred­its the ar­gu­ment that they are too costly.

What’s more, the lower up­front costs of 3D print­ers rep­re­sent just the tip of the tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits. The six key ad­van­tages an in-house 3D prin­ter are lower costs; ac­cel­er­ated time to mar­ket; com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage; fewer man­u­fac­tur­ing er­rors; greater con­fi­den­tial­ity; and im­proved model ac­cu­racy and qual­ity.

An out­sourced pro­to­type can cost from sev­eral hun­dred dol­lars for a sim­ple de­sign to thou­sands of dol­lars for a more com­plex model – as much as three to five times that of a part printed in­house.

Cre­at­ing the same pro­to­type on an in-house 3D prin­ter brings a sig­nif­i­cant cost sav­ing, even if your com­pany prints only two mod­els a month on av­er­age. These sav­ings are aug­mented by de­sign­ers and de­vel­op­ers not hav­ing to wait for pro­to­types to re­turn, time to mar­ket sav­ings, and sav­ings on re­duced man­u­fac­tur­ing er­rors due to the abil­ity to print many pro­to­types.

One Fused De­po­si­tion Mod­el­ling cus­tomer Akaishi, es­ti­mates it re­duced costs by 73 per­cent with in-house pro­to­typ­ing ver­sus the tra­di­tional out­sourc­ing method.

Turn­around time with out­sourc­ing rarely takes the per­ceived two to three days to get mod­els back. In fact, it nor­mally takes around a week or longer. Most de­lays take place be­fore a model or­der is placed, in large part be­cause of the pro­hib­i­tive cost of out­sourced pro­to­typ­ing.

For ex­am­ple, a com­pany might not or­der a model un­til the de­sign is ad­vanced enough that the com­pany feels it’s worth spend­ing the money. In­clud­ing in­ter­nal de­sign re­view meet­ings, or­der place­ment, ap­proval pro­cesses and other pro­ce­dures, the to­tal de­sign de­lay time can be five or 10 times the ac­tual turn­around time when out­sourc­ing. And in many cases, this process may be re­peated two or three times be­fore a prod­uct de­sign is fi­nal­ized for pro­duc­tion.

De­layed time to mar­ket is not the only cost, even though some things can be done in par­al­lel, a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time is spent wait­ing for mod­els to re­turn from an out­source provider. In com­par­i­son, an in-house 3D prin­ter pro­duces a pro­to­type within hours, rather than days, print­ing dur­ing the night or over the week­end can also save time.

This can shave weeks off the de­vel­op­ment cy­cle and dra­mat­i­cally ac­cel­er­ate time to mar­ket for new prod­ucts and new fea­tures for ex­ist­ing prod­ucts.

Ad­di­tion­ally, be­cause de­vel­op­ment con­tin­ues while a de­sign is at the out­source provider and af­ter the model comes back, de­sign­ers are of­ten caught in a de­vel­op­ment time lag with pro­to­types that are al­ready ob­so­lete.

The abil­ity to quickly print 3D mod­els in just hours means decisions can be based on ac­cu­rate pro­to­types and data. In a sur­vey of more than 1,000 Strata­sys 3D prin­ter own­ers, al­most one third re­ported ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a 25 per­cent or higher im­prove­ment in prod­uct launch times.

More than half of re­spon­dents re­ported a prod­uct launch time im­prove­ment of at least 10 per­cent or more.

Many fac­tors can slow down the in­tro­duc­tion of new prod­ucts dur­ing the prod­uct de­vel­op­ment life­cy­cle – ev­ery­thing from choice of tools to time spent wait­ing for pro­to­types to ar­rive from an out­source ven­dor.

Early-stage and fre­quent pro­to­typ­ing leads to more ef­fec­tive prod­uct launches, en­abling a com­pany to in­tro­duce new in­no­va­tions to mar­ket ahead of their com­peti­tors. If a pic­ture speaks a thou­sand words, how many thou­sands does a life­like 3D replica speak?

De­sign­ers can quickly vi­su­alise all their prod­uct ideas by avoid­ing lengthy pro­cesses, bud­getary decisions and ap­provals for out­sourc­ing.

In­no­va­tive de­sign ideas can be ef­fec­tively com­mu­ni­cated with 3D mod­els, en­sur­ing that great ideas are not over­looked be­cause team mem­bers and man­agers didn’t un­der­stand the de­signer’s ex­pla­na­tion.

The same vis­ual power of an ac­cu­rate 3D model can turn ideas into win­ners in front of cus­tomers. The abil­ity to quickly print phys­i­cal mod­els that cus­tomers can see, touch and play with is in­stru­men­tal in win­ning bids or gain­ing ap­proval to pro­ceed with jobs.

Pro­to­typ­ing re­duces man­u­fac­tur­ing costs by fine-tun­ing de­signs be­fore moulds and die casts are made. When pro­to­typ­ing is read­ily avail­able, and can be done in­ex­pen­sively in mul­ti­ple it­er­a­tions, the po­ten­tial for de­sign er­rors is sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced.

De­sign­ers can test out dif­fer­ent ideas to find the op­ti­mal de­sign, us­ing small vari­a­tions on the model to check for func­tion­al­ity. In a re­cent sur­vey of over 1,000 Strata­sys 3D Prin­ter own­ers, al­most one-third of re­spon­dents were able to re­duce it­er­a­tions by 25 per­cent or more by hav­ing a 3D prin­ter in-house. More than half of the re­spon­dents re­ported a re­duc­tion of up to 10 per­cent thanks to their in-house 3D prin­ter.

In today’s com­pet­i­tive mar­ket, a leaked de­sign may spell dis­as­ter, mak­ing it im­per­a­tive to en­sure con­fi­den­tial­ity. Keep­ing rapid pro­to­typ­ing in-house with a 3D prin­ter elim­i­nates the need to trans­mit de­sign files to any ex­ter­nal net­work. It en­sures that de­signs never leave com­pany premises, safe­guard­ing in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty.

Keep de­sign and pro­to­typ­ing in-house and avoid the risk of hav­ing your ideas stolen.

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