High volume Additive manufacturing offers an affordable option for creating industrial components like gears and rollers.
Over the lifetime of Slant 3D, we have had many opportunities to manufacture amazing products for clients. These have ranged from robotics components to Amazon Echo Covers. But there are a group of products that we have a special love for, Wheels and Gears. These fundamental parts are used in every aspect of engineering. They the transistors of the Mechanical world. But they are very expensive to manufacture.
The engineering time alone in the creation of good gears and rollers can be a large portion of the budget. But it has to occur in order to create a component that will work for your particular application. Just last year Slant 3D manufactured rollers for machinery handling pears. Pear Rollers are not an off the shelf component. So the engineering had to be done to create a roller with the correct profile. But once that was done 3D printing was a very viable method to produce several hundred rollers affordably and reliably. The alternative was to machine the parts which would have been exceptionally expensive for such a large part or to mold them which also would have been exceptionally expensive. Neither process allows any iteration either.
Whereas 3D printing was quick and affordable. And it allows the client to change the design 10 units in without substantial added expense.
Gears for agricultural equipment are also a common need. Large, bulky, sturdy gears for farm equipment are expensive to machine from a block of delrin. And they are nearly impossible to mold in some cases. 3D Printing allows for the creation of strong gears that can take the abuse of the farm.
And again, since 3D printing is so material efficient these large gears can be created for the same or less cost than off-the-shelf parts that will not fit the application.
Slant 3D is working on several initiatives to make wheels and gear more accessible and affordable via additive manufacturing. Stay tuned for those in the future.
But if you need your rollers, wheels, or gears manufactured today get a quote from Slant 3D and compare production 3D printing to all the other processes available.
What is the Process of preparing a product to be manufactured with high volume production 3D printing?
Production 3D Printing is able to produce 100,000's of parts more affordably than injection molding. This savings is a result of the eliminated upfront cost of tooling and reducing design time and the long terms costs of warehousing.
But what is the process of moving a product into Production 3D Printing? It is very important to know this process to ensure that there are as few delays as possible as you are going into production.
I have an Idea/Sketch
I have an Engineered Design
I have a Physical Part I need Re-manufactured or is no Longer in Production
The Most Important Thing
The most important thing is to make sure that you part is designed and optimized for production 3D printing. This makes sure that the quality, performance, and cost of the part is the best case possible. Additive manufacturing is rarely an exact replacement to injection molding. It is an alternative process that must be considered during design. That is why we keep a team of engineers who are the world leaders in design for additive manufacturing and they are here to make sure that your part meets your needs.
3D Printing is increasingly being used by businesses. And it is not just being used for prototyping. The ability to iterate on products and create complex geometries are both enticing to create parts at production scales. And with technologies such as our Production 3D printing Farm, large scales are feasible. But during the design and prototyping stage sampling, verfication, and design can increase up-front costs to create a 3D printed product. That is why we created the Mason 3D printer for businesses
The Mason is a 3D printer derived from the production 3D printers used in our large scale 3D printing farm. Because of that, any part made on the Mason will be identical to the parts coming out of the Slant 3D Printing Factory. This means sampling is no longer necessary. Clients only need to make a prototype on the Mason that is up to Spec, and then thousands more can immediately be produced with identical settings and characteristics on the Slant 3D farm. Prototype to production with no steps in between.
There only leaves the problem of getting those settings right on your prototype. Design for production 3D printing is an entire discipline, and very few truly understand how to optimize a part for large volumes. And while the machines may be identical from prototype to production, materials could vary if the client is using a spool of filament off of Amazon.
So to standardize the workflow completely. We created OnSite. Onsite is program that connects a Mason 3D printer directly into Slant 3D. An Onsite Subscription provides stardaized materials and access to profession file preparations and optimization. So every variable is eliminated in the prototype stage. Mason+Onsite gives you completely final production-ready prototypes. Not to mention machine insurance, discounted setup, zero sampling costs, and low cost high quality filament.
With the Mason 3D printer combined with an Onsite subscription we have made is possible for businesses to create, and quickly scale 3D printed products as easily as a software company might make an app.
Sculpteo's annual "State of 3D Printing" for 2019 shows how enterprises are increasingly using 3D printing and additive manufacturing for end-use products.
These and many other fascinating insights are from Sculpteo’s 5th edition of their popular study, The State of 3D Printing (29 pp., PDF, opt-in). The study’s methodology is based on interviews with 1,300 respondents coming from Europe (64%), United States (16.6 %) and Asia (20.2%), which is the fastest growing region internationally today as measured by this survey over five years. Eight industries are included in the research design including Industrial Goods (13.6%), High Tech (10.6%), Services (9.9%), Consumer Goods (8.6%), Health & Medical (6.2%), Automotive (5.7%), Aerospace & Defense (5.5%), and Education (4.9%). For additional details on the methodology, please see pages 6 and 7 of the study. Key takeaways from the survey include the following:
3D Printing has creating an incredible opportunity for designers to bring physical products to life. Websites such as Amazon, and Etsy, and businesses of all sizes have seen an influx of true 3D products that are as good, if not better than, traditional manufacturing processes.
But there has been a problem. Most of these products are made by very small concerns and have little ability to scale. This is because the cost to create and scale a 3D printer farm that can meet large scale demand is as great, or greater, than the cost to build traditional tooling.
At Slant 3D we have been working to eliminate the barriers to bringing physical products to market. We started by building one of the largest and highest volume producing factories of 3D printed parts in the world. With this next step, we are making it easier to access and utilize that 3D printing factory.
Here is the Mason and the Onsite Program, a pipeline from prototype to production of 3D printed parts
The Mason 3D Printer
Many clients that come to Slant 3D have a product that they have been printing with traditional FDM Machines. But since they are using some consumer machine the parts they make might not be the same as the pieces produced by Slant 3D. So a few cycles of sampling and verification have to occur. Which can slow down a product launch and add expense. If they had access to a printer that gave the same results as those used in our 3D printing factory then it would eliminate that setup process.
At Slant 3D we have spent several years developing new 3D Printer technology. Working to create industrial machines that are able to be deployed by the thousands to produce 100,000's of parts for clients as an alternative to injection molding. We have become very good at making 3D Printers.
The Mason 3D printer is a prosumer machine derived from our industrial printers. With it, users are able to make prototypes at their business with a workhorse machine, and when they are ready to scale up production of those parts all they have to do is send the final design and print settings to Slant 3D and they will translate directly into the production process. Eliminating sampling, and redesigns. The Mason now makes it as easy to create a product and scale it as making an app.
When you create an app you test it on your phone. If it works there it works on most similar phones. Now, when you create a product you can build it on the Mason. If it turns out right there then it can be produced by the Thousands immediately by Slant 3D.
The Mason is now available for preorders now for $750. Shipments will begin in early June of 2019. To get more details on the specs of the Mason visit its main Page.
The 3D Printing industry suffers from a huge lack of reliability. Colors and quality of filament change. Machines and the companies that make them disappear and go out of date. We want to eliminate all of those problems.
With Onsite we provide insurance for your Mason 3D Printer. If it breaks down then we will replace it within 2 days to ensure that you are never held up in your work. We also provide a 20% discount on all of our premium filament. This is the same filament that Slant 3D uses in production. So any part made with that filament on the Mason 3D printer will be identical to the parts produced by Slant 3D. Creating a perfect pipeline from prototype to production of 3D printed products.
And if you are a business or Designer that has a high demand for 3D printing, the Onsite program with discounted filament will easily pay for the printer in under a year. And you have the added value of the manufacturing backend of the Slant 3D Factory.
Another problem that many businesses run into is simply the operation of 3D printers. Preparing a CAD file for printing is a skill unto itself. With the Onsite Business Subscription companies immediately gain access to 3D printing expertise.
To implement Onsite Business the Mason 3D printer of the business will be upgraded with cloud connectivity. Then whenever a Design needs to be printed it will be uploaded to Slant 3D and one of our experts will slice it and print it at the client's desired machine. It is like having 3D printer experts in house.
Learn More about Onsite
We are very excited about the Mason and Onsite. The are going to fundamentally change the product development process. It will no longer be a set of disjointed suppliers and experts. We have created a clear and easy path to go from prototype to production without interruption. It is now possible to create a physical product and scale it as easily as it is to create a scale digital product.
Production 3D Printing offers a low-cost-of-entry and flexible alternative to injection molding when creating new toys. Allowing designers and businesses to more readily break into the global toy market and scale up.
Toys are one of the largest markets for final plastic products in the world. Valued at nearly 89 Billion dollars per year, toys are also lucrative. The trouble is that toys are risky and subject to little more than the whim of the consumer. Literally one weeks consumers will be buying the latest fidget spinner, and then the next week stocking up on branded Avengers Endgame action figures.
The toy industry is dominated by the Likes of Lego, Hasbro, and Mattel. Organizations that can afford the cost of design, tooling, and marketing of literally hundreds of SKU's of toys from 1 month to the next. With 10's of thousands of dollars for each variations, the cost to create a toy is very high. And when the toy is made there is really no guaratee of its success. They are subject to the 50-70% failure rate of any business.
So how does a small company, startup, or lone inventor break into the toy industry, when the the cost of entry and risk is so high?
The problem is in the tooling. That high upfront cost to get started. And the high cost to change if a product is not successful. Molding and traditional tooling are what makes the cost-risk relationship so bad. But there is a process that does not have that high initial tooling fee but will allow you to grow should your toy take off. Additive Manufacturing or Production 3D printing.
Additive manufacturing is when a part is literally grown from a feed of plastic. Traditional manufacturing carves of stamps a shape. 3D printing just makes it appear. Additive is also a digital process. Meaning that, to use it, all you need is a 3D model of your product and it can be created.
Another benefit of the Digital nature of 3D printing is that if a product needs to be changed, updated, or completely replaced, all it takes is an e-mail with the updated 3D design. With no new tooling or molding costs a physical part can be tweaked while it is being made.
Production 3D printing has also reached a scale where if you gain success and are selling thousands, 10's of thousands or more, it can keep up and maintain pricing comparable to injection molding. If a part costs $0.25 for 10,000 units with injection molding after the mold costs, it is likely that production additive can have a similar cost profile without the molding costs.
Additive manufacturing also eliminates the need to create 10,000 pieces. This might be more expensive per part that making large quantities, but it allows a business to experiment and test a market, and not be stuck with the high cost of having to ship and store thousands of pieces. Companies like Slant 3D also often have fulfillment systems, so you create a product and upload it to our system and then when a customer makes an order, the part is printed and shipped right from one of our facilities. (You can learn more about 3D printed product fulfillment here.)
Toys are a risky business. But they can be very lucrative when they are successful. But startups and inventors need a resource that allows them to experiment with production quantities and scale easily without high up-front costs. Traditional manufacturing does not meet those needs. Production Additive manufacturing does allow for this. It lets toy designers make 10 toys and test them, make 1000 toys and sell them, and then make 100,000 and get rich. Just imagine what you could create if the cost to make a toy was not so high
Slant 3D is one of the leaders in high-quantity additive manufacturing. We work continuously with small business and corporate clients to bring new products to market affordably using our production 3D printing farm. Learn more about our capabilities here.
Have an idea for a Toy. Contact us and our team will help you with the design and manufacture, without using the cost of molds.
Already have a toy Design? Submit it for a quote for production 3D printing and out engineers will work with you to get it into production.
Republished. Original Article can be Found Here
The future of 3D printing is bright and is an increasingly important pillar in the manufacturing renaissance. With the increased usage of the technology, conversations about additive manufacturing are a lot more tangible than they were just two years ago. Before, we were debating whether there is a financial or technological case to convert from traditional, high volume processes to an additive printer. Now, there are growing numbers of use-cases and demonstrable business benefits proving that additive can be used as a mainstream manufacturing technology. What can be done with 3D printing isn’t theoretical anymore; it’s fact.
Several industries—including healthcare, automotive and aerospace and defense—have been experiencing impactful production and business transformations within key areas of their business given the maturation of additive technologies and material supply-chains. For instance, interior aircraft parts like ducting, vents and airflow systems created with additive manufacturing permit designers to trim weight, reduce the number of components in assemblies, and conform to tight cabin interiors. In addition, additive provides design freedom to experiment with more effective and efficient part shapes, with fewer potential points of failure. These give manufacturers more flexibility in creating their products all while keeping pace with contracting production cycles.
In a recent survey conducted by Jabil, we discovered that in just over a year, the number of companies utilizing 3D printing as well as the variety of applications rocketed dramatically; the percentage of companies using additive to manufacture production parts rose from 27 percent to 52, bridge production increased from 23 percent to 39, and repair went from 14 percent to 38. Although the 3D printing industry is currently worth around $9.3 billion, a report by Smithers Pira predicts that the additive manufacturing industry will be worth $55.8 billion by 2027. Download the full Jabil survey report.
Scalability from Prototyping to Production
3D printing use for bridge production has grown 70 percent in just two years. In that time, automotive, transportation and heavy equipment industries have been the most frequent users of the technology for this purpose.
Additive manufacturing allows for easy scalability from prototype to full-scale manufacturing. After all, prototyping without the vision and expertise to go into full-scale production misses a key tenant of what additive stands to deliver which is more efficient life-cycle management.
When volumes are still relatively low, if a brand is looking to print 100 parts for engineering testing, for instance, it’s easy to do so with additive manufacturing. Even quadrupling that number can be done with no added retooling costs using 3D printing. Additive is the perfect fit for low to mid-volume production. With the right level of planning, engineering, and material development, a part developed using additive can seamlessly transition into rate production equipment such as injection molding.
Producing a part on-demand with 3D printing enables manufacturers to print parts as needed instead of pulling the part from a supply warehouse. On demand production will help companies realize huge reductions in inventory and storage costs. In the automotive industry, for example, spare parts inventory could be reduced by 90 percent with 3D printing, according to a report from MIT.
Today, we’re moving from a capability conversation to capacity conversation. But in the future, 3D printing will be able to support all facets of new product introduction (NPI) where scaling volume to achieve price points will become decreasingly important.
Normalizing Digitization and Reorganizing the Supply Chain
Additive manufacturing is leading the way in the digital transformation of Industry 4.0. It’s one of the purest digital technologies because it doesn’t require tooling and fixturing, thereby eliminating or reducing switching costs in moving a file to different locations and printers. That’s a radical departure from labor-intensive methods employed by the manufacturing industry over the last 200 years.
In fact, the most disruptive aspect of additive has little to do with the actual printers—it’s the conversion of a digital form into a physical good, meaning a file that has a representation of the final product you want. 3D printing is the first step on the journey to digital transformation.
Rather than stocking a warehouse full of parts that might become obsolete and mass quantities of spare parts that may or may not be in demand, additive manufacturing condenses the piles of boxes eating up physical space into digital files that can be stored in the Cloud and easily accessed if they are ever needed.
In addition to digital inventory, distributed manufacturing is also changing how companies are incorporating 3D printing into their digital strategy. Instead of considering a centralized solution, distributed manufacturing enables companies to decentralize production so they can manufacture the final product closer to the customer.
With 3D printing, manufacturers can better connect the physical supply chain with a digital thread and manage products more efficiently from concept to end-of-life. Manufacturing can be distributed to any location that has digital manufacturing systems in place simply by sending a file. This decentralization enables a more collaborative, transparent and efficient supply chain. If a natural disaster hits, additive manufacturing will be able to right itself and move forward much more quickly than traditional manufacturing.
In the future, a hybrid version of manufacturing will include large factories, as well as larger numbers of smaller sites with 3D print farms, or even printers being deployed in alternative locations, like service and support centers, distribution centers, or even in people’s homes. 3D printing will eventually become simple enough that most households will be able to pull files and print a product with just a few flicks of their wrists, like 2D printing at Kinko’s a mere ten years ago. We’re already on this course, and we’re just beginning to distribute closer to consumption and becoming more agile.
Not too long ago, the battery case on one of my son’s toys broke and I 3D printed a new one. It’s starting to reach the point where you wonder, “What can’t we print?” And when we start to dissect everything down to the molecular level, it’s just a matter of time before individual consumers can print food or glasses frames or…well, anything. In the future, 3D printing will empower more consumers.
Slant 3D offers high volume production of 3D printed parts as an alternative to injection molding. Simply submit a 3D model of your file and our engineers will work with you to get it quoted for production.
Offering Greater Flexibility and More Customized Designs
A prevailing consumer trend that we have noticed across many industries is the desire for personalization. Rather than purchasing a mass-produced item, customers are more frequently wanting a product that is created for them specifically, gratifying their personal tastes and preferences.
This is enabled by additive manufacturing’s ability to offer low-volume production. 3D printing gives manufacturers more flexibility in responsive design. Instead of having to hoist large quantities of identical objects onto the public, they can afford to produce smaller batches, allowing designers and engineers to adjust product designs and innovate in a cost-effective manner as inspiration strikes or customer feedback trickles in.
The Future of 3D Printing is in Materials
While substantial investments in the additive manufacturing ecosystem are fueling growth, I don’t think you can overstate the significance of the materials. Outside of the high cost of the equipment, the next big barrier is materials and the closed ecosystem which has stymied the industry’s growth. Numerous types of 3D printing materials are on the market today, but very few are advanced enough to meet the quality or regulatory requirements of every industry.
With current challenges surrounding volumes in most industries, suppliers and manufacturers aren’t incentivized to create the materials necessary for new applications. However, I believe that the future of 3D printing is in materials—specifically engineered and application specific materials. The different needs of diverse industries all require custom solutions to their problems. Integrating new engineered materials will transform a new generation of applications, including heavily regulated industries.
Creating a More Sustainable Future with 3D Printing
Finally, two of the key tenets to additive manufacturing are sustainability and conservation. One of the intrinsic benefits is that scrap material is reduced, if not eliminated. As Simon Ford and Mélanie Despeisse point out in their essay, “Additive Manufacturing and Sustainability: An Exploratory Study of the Advantages and Challenges,” additive manufacturing mimics biological processes by creating objects layer by layer, rather than produce a hulking item that must be whittled and chunks carved out to achieve the desired shape. “It is inherently less wasteful than traditional subtractive methods of production and holds the potential to decouple social and economic value creation from the environmental impact of business activities,” they write.
Aside from reducing waste, 3D printing also conserves energy. The Metal Powder Industries Federation did a studythat listed 17 steps required to produce a truck gear using subtractive manufacturing versus the six steps it takes to accomplish the same task with additive manufacturing. With 3D printing, the same product took less than half the energy. Additionally, by bringing products closer to the customer, 3D printing reduces the need for transporting products and materials, thereby positively affecting the quantity of carbon poured into the atmosphere. Therefore, the future of 3D printing will lead to a more sustainable future overall.
This is a pivotal time for the manufacturing industry. We’re standing at an epicenter where we don’t have a fully mature technology, both in the physical representation and the printers and how we want to manage everything on the digital side. But additive manufacturing is demonstrating its transformative nature and has already begun to reshape businesses.
According to our survey, over the next two to five years, 86 percent of companies expect their use of 3D printing to at least double, and just less than 40 percent expect their usage to increase five times or more. As we adopt additive manufacturing, companies will be able to do smaller batch sizes, realize faster NPI and development and, ultimately, where the cost curves intersect, use it as a full serial production tool. In doing that, we’re laying the foundation, and the distributive manufacturing model will be here to stay. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that the future of 3D printing is bright.
When creating a mold for a new product, it generally requires 6-8 weeks to complete. This is 6-8 weeks that a company is waiting to move forward. Then once the mold is complete it can take several weeks of verification to ensure that the parts that mold is making are viable.
Contrast this is Production 3D printing. It requires less than 1 week to prepare a part for production and have a sample for verification. Then parts can be produced at a rate of thousands per week. (And though the rate of production for additive manufacturing is a bit slower, its Just-in-time capabilities saves warehousing and lost inventory costs).
How can production additive manufacturing be considered "slower" when weeks are saved during design and setup.
Let's actually see where the break-even for Time is with Injection molding and production 3D printing.
There is also the component of Design Time. With 6 weeks for a mold to be created it is 6 weeks before a design can be verified for production. If there is an error in the design then the process has to start over from scratch.
With additive manufacturing a simple design change can be implemented within days. And during production, it can be implemented within hours. This is simply not possible for injection molding.
Additive manufacturing is often considered a slow process when compared to other production processes. On a time of part per machine basis that might be true. But when so much time is saved during design and setup, additive manufacturing starts to look faster than injection molding. Would you rather have part in the warehouse within 2 weeks or within 10 weeks?
Additive Manufacturing is a More Flexible Alternative to Injection Molding. Saving Time in Design and Manufacturing
Whenever a mold is a created a design is literally set into stone. This means that the product cannot be changed without starting from scratch and paying for the cost of a new mold. For new products and new companies that cost of the mold is a single up front cost worth thousands of dollars, that might be unusable.
Molds are also difficult to design for. Shrinkage, draft angles, and general geometries are all factors that severely constrain design of injection molded parts. And the application of textures is either expensive if integrated into the mold or must be done in post processing.
If a product is not well proven, with preorders or customers guaranteed to buy it, injection molding is not a good option, because it is a high up front cost, to create a product that might not address the market and needs to be redesigned.
The wheels for the toy above, were produced by Slant 3D. The client begain with a simple solid wheel. But about 30% of the way through production they changed the design to the "spring-hub." All they had to do was send the new file and within an hour the parts being produced were updated to the new design. No time or money lost in retooling.
Production 3D Printing solves the inflexibility in injection molding.
Additive manufacturing, or production 3D printing, fixes the inflexibility of molding. High volume production of 3D printed parts allows for the production of as large of quantities as injection molding. But, since there is no tooling required to make 3D printed parts, products can be updated and changed at anytime during production. Instead of paying thousands of dollars for a new mold a client just e-mails a new file. Then every part off the line from then on is that upgraded part.
Production 3D printing also has the benefit or allowing production of more varied and complex geometries. That is not to say that there are not "best practices" when designing for additive, there are. But there is still far more freedom in the design of part than injection molding. Textures can be applied for free. Internal cavities and channels are possible. And parts can be implanted inside of the part during the process (especially with FDM). Curved and Organic shapes like the 3D printed pencil holders shown below are also feasible with additive and impossible for molding..
The Time Saved with Additive Manufacturing
Within this discussion of the flexibility of high volume production 3D printing vs. molding there is also the question of time. The time lost in in retooling can put production behind days, weeks, and even months. These all have a cost associated with them. The fact that additive manufacturing is able to almost instanteously update and continue saves all of the effort.
Lastly there is the question of delivery schedule and Just-In-Time capabilities. Molds are intended to be used for very large runs of parts. This means that clients must makes large quantities and then store them, regardless of demand. Production 3D printing does not have this problem. Parts can be produce precisely at the rate of demand, ramping up and down as needs. Additive can make 10,000 parts one week, and 2000 parts then next without extra cost. This also decreases warehousing fees and losses from unsold inventory.
Final Word on Molding vs Additive Manufacturing
Molding is a great technology for products intended to sell millions of units, without update, for relatively large periods of time. But in a world where product optimization and addressing customer feedback can mean the difference between success and failure, especially for more niche or specialty products, additive manufacturing is clearly a better option.
Slant 3D produces 10,000's of parts every week for clients ranging from startups growing their first products to corporate clients, like amazon, implementing new lines. We are here to help you make you product successful with large-scale additive manufacturing to let you go from 100 parts 100,000 parts. Just send us a 3D model of your part to get started and one of our sales engineers will get in contact with you with a quote.
Recently the public got a rare view of the Slant 3D 3D printing factory. Dee Sarton's "Keepin' it Local" Segment came to one of our 3D printing facilities and was able to discuss how production additive manufacturing was growing in Idaho and is helping businesses ranging from startups to Amazon.