April 14, 2015
Ubiquitous professional-level desktop 3D printing can do for the engineering shop what desktop publishing did for publishers – change everything. You know the scene: Deep within the new product development cycle, you have a design. You send an STL file to a third-party service bureau or your corporate 3D print shop then you wait for a prototype to hold and eyeball. “Economics 101: Desktop 3D Printing” argues that it is time to end to this out-of-date process by putting professional-level 3D printers within easy reach of every engineer’s desktop.
It’s spot on.
The underlying theme of this seven-page paper, researched and produced by some of my colleagues at Desktop Engineering and sponsored by 3D printer developer MakerBot, is that affordable, professional-level 3D printing enables you to leverage prototyping more. You can have physical prototypes early and often to explore ideas alone or collaboratively with clients and colleagues. No more waiting. Real-time, affordable prototyping anytime.
The paper outlines the value proposition of widespread desktop 3D printing: efficiency, shorter design cycles, improved collaboration and better product to market faster. Buttressing this contention are results from a survey of companies widely deploying desktop 3D printing already. Self-reported cycle times are tighter, reduced manufacturing errors and improved product launch dates are among the key findings. Interesting stuff.
The paper debunks many old opinions on desktop 3D printing versus industrial-class 3D printing, such as cost, operator expertise and the like. Here, you’re not blasted with metrics on build sizes, accuracy and so forth; although metrics are abundant. Rather, the writers show that capabilities expected on large, industrial 3D printers are now available on professional desktop-sized systems. The difference is desktop units don’t require special training. They are geared for ease-of-use and easy maintenance. They also provide awfully good quality, and unit costs are price-agreeable with modest engineering capital budgets.
Six real-world reports from companies large and small that know professional-level desktop 3D printing has transformed and added value to their workflows are the heart of the paper. The range of applications in these reports is impressive. You have a well-known appliance maker, a smart toy maker and a NASA supplier, to name just three. These reports alone are worth the download.
“Economics 101: Desktop 3D Printing” is not a pure dollars-and-cents paper by any stretch of imagination. But it makes a lot of sense. Hit the Check it Out link, get your complimentary copy and see for yourself.
Thanks, Pal. – Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering