A variety of additive processes that deliver functional products in a variety of industries have mostly realised the promise of industrial-grade 3D printing (additive manufacturing) as an end-use production method.
There are numerous examples: automotive motor mounts, jet engine fuel nozzles, aircraft cabin brackets, customised hearing aids, surgical tools, and so on.
But, make no mistake, 3D printing began and continues to be a powerful prototyping tool. That is its ancestry. Early 3D printing technologies emerged in the 1980s, aided in part by the invention of stereolithography (SLA), which enabled product designers to create 3D models as well as physical objects or prototypes.
#1 Enabling Early Stage Product Development
You may have a general idea for a part or an overall product as a product developer, and you know you can change and massage the design in SolidWorks or other software. However, you must see a physical prototype at some point. 3D printing allows you to quickly create multiple iterations of a product’s design, shape, and size. This is known as rapid prototyping.
And, depending on the method and material used in prototyping, your options are limitless. What is one example? Recently, I’ve noticed an increase in the use of 3D printed clear prototypes by designers, so that when iterating various designs, a clear model can show them what happens on the inside of a part. Consider using a power drill. There are numerous mechanisms at work within it. The designer can see what’s going on inside a new drill model with a clear prototype version. However, this is just one of hundreds of examples.
Of course, the majority of these parts will eventually be manufactured using injection moulding or other traditional manufacturing methods, but the 3D-printed prototype part will aid in overall design development.
#2 Supporting Product Design Validation
3D printing is frequently used by product designers to develop the “looks like” prototype, focusing on its overall appearance and commercial appeal while still in the early design and concepting stages. This is the stage at which developers receive early customer feedback. They place a physical part in the hands of a customer and solicit critical feedback: Does it look right, does it feel right, does the product meet the market’s needs? Again, 3D printing enables developers to go through multiple design iterations. Smartphone designers with whom we’ve collaborated are a prime example of this. They’ve tried tall, wide, thick, skinny, small, large, and so on. The point is that the physical prototype given to the customer for review is typically 3D-printed.
#3 Facilitating Functional Validation
Engineering verification, or functional testing of a part, is what I’m referring to here. This is the “works like” prototype, which focuses on the overall functionality of the part or product and how it will actually work. You may not be able to print in the exact material that it will be conventionally manufactured with with 3D printing, but because we have so many 3DP processes here at Protolabs, you’ll be able to test most of the functions you’re likely intending for the part, whether through impact testing, airflow testing, temperature testing, and so on. And, once again, what is the allure of 3D printing? Multiple designs and prototypes can be tested quickly. Many people are interested in 3D printing service in Malaysia. Though some of them try to find agencies that have 3D print service Malaysia, some even get their own 3D printing machine. However when looking at the 3D printing service cost, they tend to opt out to just hiring a 3D printing service Malaysia.
#4 Reducing Multipart Assembly
When the final or end-use part is 3D-printed, this comes into play on the production side of additive manufacturing. One of the most frequently mentioned advantages of additive manufacturing is the ability to combine existing part assemblies made up of many pieces into a single part. As we previously stated in our part consolidation guide, if you’ve flown in a newer plane, you may have already experienced this without realising it. The most well-known example is GE’s additively manufactured fuel nozzle for CFM International’s LEAP aircraft engine. The nozzle was a 20-part engine component that was combined into one, resulting in a 25% weight reduction.
#5 Offering a Design and Development Off-Ramp
Finally, this is one of the advantages that everyone mentions. What exactly do I mean by “design off-ramp”? I’m referring to the design freedom provided by 3D printing. If you are stuck on a particular design and it appears that your part design cannot be machined, for example, 3D printing provides an off-ramp.
Product designers can create phenomenal part complexity with some constraints. What is frequently quoted in this context, and I’m not sure who said it first, is that “complexity is free,” with the idea being that, at least during the design stage, this unlimited part complexity is free. But be cautious here. Don’t put yourself in a bind. Due to high part volumes, you may need to redesign or reconfigure something that could later be machined or moulded. So, enjoy your freedom, but exercise caution or if you would like to hire a company that specialises in 3D printing Malaysia, Dezpad is your answer.
If you have any questions about 3D printing or any of our other services here at Dazpad, please Contact Us and book your first consultation with us today.