High Volume 3D Printing allows companies to produce products at any scale without the cost of tooling. For new companies and products this eliminates the high initial cost of tooling. And for companies making complex hardware, or low volumes of products 3D printing can allow them to access new markets faster and with far less risk.
So how is high volume 3D printing able to replace injection molding. There are a number of ways. Fast 3D printers or Lots of 3D Printers.
Fast 3D Printing
Fast 3D Printers are systems that are able to adiditvely produce parts very quickly. These are systems like HP Multi-jet Fusion (MJF) or Carbon's Digital Light Synthesis (DLS).
These technologies are able to produce parts very quickly with 3D printing. But they are limited in geometry and require a lot of post processing, so they remain quite expensive. Though when compared to the high up front cost of molding, these processes can be very useful in high margin products. The design freedom they offer with lattices and light-weighting are also big advantages.
Lots of 3D Printers (or 3D Printing Farms)
3D Printing Farms, like the ones created at Slant 3D, used hundreds or thousands of 3D printers all working in parallel to create parts very quickly at scale. A single part may take an hour to produce, but with hundreds of machines working on that part, you are now making hundreds of parts per hour.
3D Printing farms are able to achieve a much greater scale and a much better cost advantage than other systems because they take advantage of scale. They source larger amounts of more common materials and high automation eliminates the labor costs that can make other processes very expensive.
While fast 3D printing systems may only be affordable compared to molding up to about 1000 parts, 3D Printing farms have achieved cost parity with molding up to 100,000 parts. And that is just by eliminating the need for molds. Long term the savings can be even greater with better supply chain management that 3D Printing allows.
Choose the Process for your Product
It is important to understand that each manufacturing process is not a perfect substitute for any other. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. As you plan your product consider everything from design attributes to ultimate scale and production needs.
High volume 3D printing is great for getting started and scaling up. It also can provide many interesting engineering advantages. Injection molding, is great at high volumes and also provides certain engineering advantages. It is all a matter of what you product needs to be when it gets into customer's hands and your budget for making that happen.
Production 3D Printing is a new technology. And not everyone has interacted with it or understands what kind of pieces and features can be made with it. That is why we designed the Slant 3D Sample Brick. This 3D Printed part demonstrates many of the key features and capabilities of the additive manufacturing process. Everything from complex internal geometries to complex surface textures.
The sample Brick can be ordered for free with the form below. Just let us know where to send it and we will get it to you.
Clients may use the 3d printed sample brick as a reference for proper design of 3D printed parts. As well as a way to evaluate our high volume 3D printing processes.
Features on the Brick
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.
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.