Additive manufacturing has sparked a wave of innovation. The ability to translate intricate designs into tangible objects quickly and with precision is changing the way businesses operate at multiple levels. It’s not just mature companies with a wealth of resources that are reaping the benefits of 3D printing technology. Jewelers, architects, toymakers, and many other businesses that never knew they needed a 3D printing service provider are discovering how rapid prototyping can benefit them. Here are some ways Shapeways 3D printing service can get your next project off the ground.
1. Efficient use of resources
There are many steps to bringing a new product to market successfully. Your job is to see that they all get done. But you don’t have to do all of them yourself. Having a reliable partner that can shoulder some of those burdens can be a big help. A 3D printing service that can produce the prototypes needed to push your business forward will help you to use your resources to your best advantage.
2. Test the functionality of your design
You may be confident that your great new idea will work, but you still need to determine how well it works before committing more of your valuable resources. A working prototype doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive and can help keep your project on the right path. Rapid prototyping will allow you to quickly see how all of the components of your design fit together and eliminate any design flaws before they become too costly to repair.
3. Test the performance of your product using various materials
How durable is your new product? Will it stand up to the stress of everyday use, or will it fall apart after just a few operations? Rapid prototyping can be employed to help you make critical decisions that will determine the usefulness of your product. Is plastic strong enough? Is metal too brittle? The answers may not always be obvious. Several models can be produced using a variety of materials that can be tested over a range of conditions to determine a cost-effective solution for your application.
4. Analyze different ideas
Is there a hole in your design? A gray area where you’re not sure how to proceed? Sometimes seemingly small details can have profound effects on your project. When the answer you are looking for is not intuitive, rapid prototyping can be an inexpensive way to test several ideas to determine the best path forward.
5. Easy to revise and reuse designs
3D printing allows for greater flexibility with your prototypes. Data from your original mock-up can reveal areas of concern that can then drive improvements to your digital model. This new model can later be reprinted for other uses. You can print as many copies of your model as you need for testing or as aids to set up the jigs and fixtures that will be required when full production of your product commences.
6. Reduce the time and effort needed to create models
One 3D printer can replace an entire machine shop or mold shop, as well as some of the personnel required to run them. A single component may require several different machining processes using traditional manufacturing techniques. Milling, turning, and drilling operations can all be eliminated from the process. Intricate parts that might take weeks to fabricate using traditional methods can now be turned around in hours.
7. Reduce communication errors
Reducing the number of people involved in a process also minimizes the likelihood of misunderstandings between teams. Using a 3D printing service enables you to pass your designs directly from your desktop to the printer. Eliminating potential problems that can arise when translating a digital model into a solid object can be a great stress reliever.
8. Scale models can be used as sales presentations to investors and customers.
A working scale model can be a valuable communication tool for your sales team. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a model can close the deal. Rapid prototyping makes it easy to impress potential customers and investors alike. The opportunity for potential customers and investors to see and touch your product can go a long way toward convincing them of its merits.
9. Batch production for a test launch
A batch run of a small number of units can be easily accomplished using rapid prototyping. These units can then be given to potential customers to try out. Getting feedback from your customers before making a final commitment to the expensive tooling required to mass produce your product can be a smart way to save money.
A working prototype is not required to obtain a patent. However, your application does need to be as detailed and thorough as possible. A prototype can help you to describe your invention with far greater precision than can be achieved with drawings or written descriptions. A 3D printed model can be an affordable way to protect your property.
Find out how Shapeways can help you with your rapid prototyping needs.