3D Printing in Manufacturing

Traditional manufacturing notoriously deals with a plethora of ever-changing demands, but 3D printing is stepping in to significantly reduce these burdens by offering unique advantages. While traditional manufacturing processes often use tools and machines to convert raw materials into finished products, the process of 3D printing adds several unique benefits to improve production methods, often producing a better end product with fewer resources.

 

For example, in traditional manufacturing, engineers and designers fabricate and customize parts to solve challenges, create end-use products, and a whole garnet of other uses. As each tool, or part, is often custom-made, the process can be extremely costly and time consuming.

 

To produce custom parts and tools, or to replace broken and outdated models, a whole production line is required. Expensive machinery and many specialized people are involved in the process.

 

The 3D printing process makes the creation of customized parts and the entire production process cheaper and more accessible for a variety of businesses, including small and mid-size businesses. 3D printing involves the combining of multiple layers of a material until a 3D printed model is produced. The results of this production method offer time savings benefits as production time can be reduced to a few hours rather than days, or even longer.

 

Due to these cost and time saving benefits, along with many other benefits, more and more manufacturing companies are embracing the trend of 3D printing, which is revolutionizing manufacturing and development and expected to continue into the future.

3D Printing in Production

High Volume Manufacturing

A primary goal of high volume manufacturing is increased throughput and technology, while leveraging as many cost saving strategies to benefit the overall bottom line as possible. Thanks to 3D printing’s additive manufacturing processes, companies can leverage the on-demand production and a more agile manufacturing model to produce high volume products, more cost-effectively. In some cases, traditional manufacturing can be replaced entirely, such as in the production of medical products that require significant customizations, such as prosthesis and dental devices, or when conventional processes are too costly. 3D printing can also consolidate the number of parts used in product development by fabricating more complex parts.

 

Additionally 3D printing can achieve improved design and unique aesthetic with a more detailed customization. Certain industries are taking advantage of 3D printing more than others, such as medical devices, as some products are perfectly aligned to 3D printing due to requiring several customizations to fit a patient uniquely. Medical device developers and manufacturers are enabled by a more nimble process in the creation of medical devices with many more customizations.

Low Volume Manufacturing

The benefits of 3D printing provides small and mid-size businesses with the ability to launch new products more frequently, often with less out of pocket expense. In the past, companies frequently created tooling or molds before producing a single end-use product. 3D printing has now created a production method for very small scale production, to produce custom, low volume parts (even 50 or fewer units), with less cost per unit.


3D printing also offers the creation of more complex, unique designs and options for personalization to meet market demand. Low volume manufacturing can now help companies personalize products direct-to-consumer much faster. 3D printers allow designers the benefits of creating complex shapes and parts that would be more costly, and even impossible to produce with traditional methods.

Advantages of 3D Printing in Manufacturing

The potential advantages of 3D printing in manufacturing are numerous, offering ground breaking industry benefits for both low volume and high production. Here is a list of 8 notable advantages:

1. Risk Reduction

3D printing reduces the risk of errors by allowing a design to be confirmed prior to final production. 3D printing is one of the most advanced additive technologies in the market that offers a high level of accuracy when crafting a product prototype. Compared to traditional manufacturing techniques, the layer-by-layer approach builds one layer at a time, leaving room for more customizations. Additionally, the ability to rapidly produce prototypes from scratch, lets you create the prototype faster. A prototype can be customized in a few hours vs. traditional methods that may take days or even weeks. This is a huge benefit that cuts down on the risk in production, while producing custom parts in less time.

2. Cost Reduction

Most business, including small businesses, need to watch their bottom line and implement cost reduction strategies wherever possible.
Advancements in 3D printing technology has resulted in decreased costs for equipment and materials used in production, offering companies more options to produce custom products. Due to the costs being driven down, it is now more feasible to apply 3D printing in general manufacturing use. 3D printing offers a great strategy to help reduce costs in several areas, including cost of labor, materials, energy, and operations. Where traditional manufacturing typically requires more labor, machines, and power for heavy machinery, 3D printing produces prototypes from start to finish with fewer overall costs. The entire process of prototype development can also take place in one location with fewer people involved in production, saving on shipping costs and labor costs.

3. Reduced Production Time

A distinguishing benefit of 3D printing is the ability to produce prototypes from scratch in a very short amount of time. The reduced production time allows testing of custom parts, in order to make modifications, prior to production runs cuts down the time to market significantly. With production time significantly improved, the cost savings tend to pass on to the consumer offering a more affordable, quality product.

4. Strong & Durable Products

3D printing offers a method to create stronger and durable products based upon the materials used in the process. Each 3D printed material has its own benefits and cons, and some are much more durable than others. The strength and durability of a 3D-printed product, is dependent upon the material used in construction and other elements, such as the thickness of walls and infill density.
3D printing utilizes a range of different materials, to produce a more customized, detailed end-use product, many of which are very strong and durable. Polymer, for instance, is frequently used in 3D printers. Polymer is typically heated in the 3D printer, after which the polymer is released through the nozzle head. Once dry, the material hardens to create a strong and durable product.

5. Opportunities to Advance

Businesses that adopt 3D printing manufacturing methods potentially take concept to deliverable product in a shorter amount of time providing endless opportunities for trail-and-error and experimentation on production with quicker turn around times for testing products in the market. This benefit transfers to increased bottom line outcomes, particularly for smaller businesses with less inventory capabilities or access to a larger labor force.

6. Ease of Replication

3D printing has become adopted and a preferred method for production in the manufacturing industry due to the application of replicating end-use products easier and faster. To prevent downtime and reduced productivity due to equipment issues, such as when equipment breaks, and repairs or refurbishment are needed, or when dealing with defective parts, 3D printers can come in handy. Manufacturing companies can now more easily create spare and replacement parts by applying 3D printing processes, as spare and replacement parts are very critical for both manufacturing facilities and for consumers. 3D printers can be used to create anything from DIY spare and replacement parts, or even provide on-demand spare part production with the long-lasting replacement of custom parts, empowering manufacturers to replace larger product inventories.   Companies that have to maintain an expensive product and part inventories to navigate their dynamic supply chain demands, can now utilize 3D printing due to the greater access to options and critical spare parts. This access keeps production going strong. 3D printing of spare parts is also a low-cost alternative with a faster turnaround. In some cases, a piece can be reverse engineered and printed within 24 hours. This time reduction compares to a fairly common multiple-week lead time requirement with traditional manufacturing. Additionally, the process of replicating products, such as designing spare parts with 3D printing, can be greatly improved by utilizing previous designs. If a product design is stored in a company data base file, it can be accessed and used to create many units of the same product, all of which retain the same size and dimensions. Once that file has been created and added to product file inventory, to be produced “on demand” for customers vs. made in advance to be stocked, which increases costs.

7. Waste Reduction

3D printing vs. traditional methods of manufacturing also results in potentially lower overall costs and reduction of wastes. The manufacturing process of traditional methods often produces a larger amount of waste due to less precision and efficiency in the production process. 3D printing for manufacturing improves the issue of waste as process only uses the materials passed through the extruder of the printer and used for the assembly of the product vs. injection molds, which can use additional materials to fill the molds. The entire process potentially reduces waste materials used in the creation of custom parts and replication of parts passing on reducing improvements over the long-run.

8. Reduced Storage Space Requirements

Traditional industries, including retail and e-commerce, typically require the storing of products and parts to either use or sell. Stocking inventory and parts requires a significant amount of storage space. Maintaining a stock of inventory passes on expenses to business owners. Due to 3D printing for manufacturing, costs are potentially reduced due to reduction in storage space requirements. 3D printing offers print on demand, or the production of parts and goods to be made as they are sold. This advantage reduces overproduction and the expenses related to storage.

3D printing has become a cost effective, more flexible solution for many industries, offering faster turn around production times enabling companies to get product to market ahead of market demand. Due to the vast number of benefits for businesses in a wide variety of industries, 3D printing has changed manufacturing. With the unparalleled ability to produce custom parts with a faster speed-to market and reductions in cost, waste, space, and production time, along with enhanced customizations, efficiency and specifications, projections of 3D printing expanding in the future.

ABOUT 3D CONCEPTS MOTO

Since 2022, 3D Concepts Moto has been printing motorcycle parts. The father and son team, including Stuart, Paul, and Andrew Connell, got their start in the 3D printing industry when Stuart bought his first printer. Because of his “do-it-myself” personality, he naturally started printing anything he could think of, including parts for their own motorcycles. After showing the cool stuff made for their own dirt bikes and getting a lot of interest from friends, family, and the local Treasure Valley community, 3D Concepts Moto began.


The father and son team is comprised of a retired construction and mining equipment engineer who used to race motocross, a car, truck, and motorcycle enthusiast, and a certified aircraft mechanic who loves to ride in the mountains. Together, we’ve been printing motorcycle parts for the past four years before starting 3D Concepts as a company.


Our motorcycle addiction goes back to the 1970s and 80s when father, Stuart, raced motocross in the Southwest part of the United States. Andrew and Paul’s first bikes were a Yamaha YZ-80 and a KTM 125SX. Andrew took to the dirt like a fish to water, while Paul’s interest peaked when he moved to Idaho in 2012, because of the amazing mountain single track.’’


The core values guiding 3D Concepts Moto’s vision stems from the application of custom parts on their own motorcycles. “We started making motorcycle parts for ourselves, because we wanted something better. Now we want to provide something better for our customers as well.”


The motivation behind 3D Concepts Moto’s vision is simple. We love to ride, and we love to build things! It’s our goal is to offer cost-effective, protection for critical off-road motorcycle parts for our customers. It’s these primary values that kick-started our business and is the fuel that motivates our success.