Will 3D printers revolutionize the way you do business? Some experts believe they will.
How? Here are three:
- Adding efficiency and innovation to the prototyping process
- Transforming the way businesses manufacture and distribute goods
- Creating a whole new market for custom products
Their use has the potential to increase productivity in the workplace while decreasing costs on those things you use the 3D printer to create.
And though a 3D printer is definitely an investment, the cost has fallen and the technology has advanced – making this magical-seeming technology available to more and more SMBs and entrepreneurs every day.
What is 3D printing exactly? What do you think of when you hear the term?
If you’re picturing a printer producing whatever object you can imagine or desire – you aren’t wrong. Though that’s kind of the gist, there is a bit more to it.
3D printing is the process of creating a three dimensional object from a digital model. It is an additive process; meaning layers of material are overlaid on each other in different shapes – “growing” layer by layer based on information sent to it from a computer, which holds the digital copy.
There are a few different methods for 3D printing:
- Fused deposition – These printers push heated material through a tube, "printing" objects in three dimensions, one layer at a time.
- Selective laser sintering (SLS) – Differing from fused deposition, these units work by shining a high-powered beam of light onto a bed of powdered resin, turning it into a hardened material.
- Stereolithography – Similar to SLS with the high-powered beam of light, but instead of powdered resin it uses liquid resin.
Basically, when a model is created, a 3D printer reads the design from the 3D printable file and then lays down layers of powder, paper, liquid, and other materials until the model is constructed.
3D printing technology has many applications and is continuously advancing – this additive process is changing the way the world works and it can change the way you do business.
How 3D Printing Can Help Your Business
Now that you have a good foundation on what 3D printing is, let’s talk about how 3D printing benefits your business.
Trying to run a business is time consuming. And as more 3D printers enter offices (large and small) around the world, more companies and entrepreneurs gain the ability to create new designs and prototypes – all at their own convenience.
3D printing offers small business owners the power of accessibility – power over when they design a prototype and when they print it. By bringing the manufacturing and production process literally into the hands of small business owners the potential for businesses with 3D is enormous.
Many businesses start with one great idea for a product. But turning that idea into something tangible takes a lot of time and even more money.
Most SMBs have to outsource this service in order to get a prototype of their designs, which would most likely only provide them (after a grueling, lengthy, and expensive process) with one prototype.
But 3D printers are changing all that. Now small and midsize businesses (SMBs) can create innovative products more quickly and affordably with an in-house 3D printer – this allows businesses to continue creating prototypes until they're completely satisfied with the quality of the design. This cuts out an exponential amount of back and forth, time, and money – leading to the faster creation of better products at a better cost.
Companies may not yet be able to manufacture all of their own products at the click of a button, but such a reality may not be as completely out of reach as it may seem.
3D printing enables a cost-effective approach that is faster than outsourcing your manufacturing. And with the technology driving down costs, money is freed up – allowing small businesses the ability and power to customize and modify products and meet demand.
3D printing has the ability to change the business-consumer relationship in many fundamental ways.
With 3D printing technology now having the ability to print objects with high-quality materials, like stainless steel, sterling silver, ceramics and a variety of plastics, instead of guessing what consumers want to buy, businesses can just let the customers tell them what to make.
This means that popular consumer products like jewelry, sunglasses, cellphone cases, etc. can be produced and customized with 3D printing technology.
With 3D printers, small business owners can create their own products at the office, changing the way they are designed and produced. Whether you’re creating prototypes, custom products, or producing replacement parts in a short timeframe, you’re in control of the entire process.
Have more questions about 3D printers and 3D printing benefits? Let us know – we’re happy to help.
Already have a 3D printer but want to learn more? Check out these free CAD tools like Trimble Sketchup or TinkerCAD – most beginners are surprised by how easily they can whip up a complex looking design after a few tutorials.