6 Reasons Why Machine Shops Should Invest in a 3d Printer
3D printing, described more technically as “Additive Manufacturing”, has been growing exponentially in the past years and it seems like the technology is finally ready to become a staple in the manufacturing industry.
Despite the fast evolution of additive manufacturing in the recent years, however, machine shops owners are still skeptical about this technology and are reluctant to commit to it.
Although some practical limitations are still existent, 3D printers can actually contribute significantly to the manufacturing workflow.
Here are six reasons why machine shops need to invest in a 3D printer:
1. Easier experimentation
3D printing greatly facilitates the experimentation process.
It allows a rapid transition from design to prototype to functional product.
2. Customized components
3D printers are not only meant to produce prototypes. They can be a great mean to make parts for internal use and maintain equipment in good shape. Machinists are already using CNC machining to create their own parts, but the versatility of 3D printing makes this technology an even better option for internal use.
3. Small-batch production
3D printers are the perfect solution for small-batched production, especially when the part requested is rich in design details. If you want to improve your ability to meet demands large and small, adding a 3D printer to your shop could help make you the destination of choice for small upstarts with big ideas.
4. No material compromises
One of the main misbeliefs about 3D printing technology is related to materials.
Many people still believe that 3D printers only work with cheap plastics – and therefore are not suitable for machine shops. The reality is that modern additive manufacturing requires little or no compromise in material choice.
5. Reducing material waste
Traditional abrasive and cutting operations are currently still not optimized for raw material waste. Some estimates say that before the advent of 3D printers, aerospace manufacturing wasted up to 90% of the raw materials and several billion dollars a year in the process.
3D printers, on the other hand, are designed to utilize only the material that is strictly necessary to produce the part. On top of that, they use less energy while printing and allow to recycle material from “failed” prints.
6. More streamlined work
Regardless of the manufacturing process chosen by the machine shop – CNC machining or 3D printing – the computer-aided designing and programming step will be always a necessary and common step.
Additive manufacturing, however, cuts out a significant portion of technological programming. This is possible thanks to particular algorithms capable of writing the code required to build the part.