3D printing is a rapid prototyping technique which does not rely on drilling or cutting materials to create a product. In this process, a three dimensional solid object is made from a digital model by laying down successive layers of the material. 3D printing also known as 'additive manufacturing' has been welcomed by product designers and manufacturers across the globe, due to many reasons apart from being cost-effective.
3D printing rapid prototyping technology helps you take well-informed decisions about product designing. One doesn't need a functional mechanical prototype before manufacturing the actual product, which helps in reducing the rapid prototyping cost significantly.
Exploring Cost-Saving Possibilities
3D printing is lifelike, and is the closest draft of the concept designers have in their minds. Rapid prototyping process helps in saving cost under various circumstances, like:
- 3D print gives enough idea about the product's viability, and if one should go ahead with the manufacturing process or not. Thus, it eliminates the need to create a physical prototype, saving cost.
- You may discard the need for product prototype, as 3D print depicts if the product looks failure or the idea itself seems impractical, which is a real cost saver
- For ideas and products where the prototyping cost is exceptionally high, or where the product is similar to another product, you can stick to 3D models and analyze product's viability.
- You can get 3D printing of your product done and outsource the physical prototyping to a service provider at cheaper cost than manufacturing it in-house, saving time, effort and money.
- 3D printing helps when you need to research about the overall looks of various products, and take consumer opinion before manufacturing.
- 3D printing reduces cost by enabling designers to detect flaws during the early stages and make productive changes in the designing phase itself.
Should You Avoid Prototyping After 3D Modeling?
As discussed earlier, 3D printing gives a near-perfect idea of an actual product before manufacturing or creating its prototype. However, there are some areas for concern:
- Handling: Just sticking to the 3D model, deprives you from the feel of handling an actual product. Mostly, you can analyze a product better from all possible angles when it's in your hands rather than just seeing it as a design. It's just like shopping in an actual market vs. shopping online.
- Incorrect conclusions: You may also be wrong looking at just the 3D design and concluding that it's impractical. It's good to have a prototype developed and checked; before concluding it useless, as considerable amount of thought and effort went into your idea to manufacture this product.
- Scope of approvals: The physical product or prototype has a wider scope of getting approved than just showing the product design.
- Physical attributes: Handling, dimensions, expert evaluation, customer evaluation, ergonomics, display-ability, coordination checks with other physical parts, etc., all become a possibility with a prototype.
It is always better to keep in mind the above points before making a final decision on whether to keep 3D model or prototype as the final product. Sometimes you just need a 3D model or a product's prototype to say yes for manufacturing, while in other scenarios both may be required. 3D printing and rapid prototyping companies check product description in detail before deriving at a conclusion.