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.
A 3D Printer for Your Factory
Creating a jigs or custom fixtures on a factory floor is a laborious process. The engineer has to work up a model and then send it to the machinist who might have to send it back to the engineer for redesigns. Then when a machinable part is made then it is realized that the solution might not work. And then the cycle repeats. And the whole time money is being wasted trying to fix a problem.
That is why we made the Mason 3D Printer
3D Printers allow new parts to be created quickly and with relatively few design constraints. This frees up man-hours and allows for quicker testing of new solutions.
But what makes the Mason Different from the hundreds of other 3D printers on the Market. Here are three of the biggest ones.
Backed by Slant 3D
Slant 3D is one of the Largest producers of 3D printed parts in the North America and the machines we use in our 3D printing factory are the cousins to the Mason. This means that if you made 1 part with the Mason you can make a thousand more immediately through the Slant 3D Printer Farm.
So if a designer at one line or factory creates a part for use in their area that part can quickly be produced at larger volumes to outfit all other factories and lines within a matter of days.
Make Functional Parts
The Mason 3D Printer is able to print in strong and high-temp materials such as nylon and carbon-fiber filaments. It's lower temperature alternatives also retain the properties similar to ABS. So making solid and reliable parts and jigs for your factory is not a problem.
You Don't Have to Operate It
3D Printing is a skill set. And companies often can't train people to use CAD and then run the designs through the 3D Printing process. So we have made the Mason so we can do it for you.
The Mason can come with wifi and cloud-connectivity. Backed up by Slant 3D Support Staff and designers, and customer could essentially submit a napkin-sketch to us, we could create the 3D model, and then prepare and send it to the Mason 3D Printer where it will start printing. The Client does not have to learn anything at all. And if there is ever a problem with the Printer, with the Onsite Subscription, clients can have the whole machine replaced within 2 days
The Slant 3D Sample Brick
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
Generally when designing a piece of industrial hardware or a product prototype designers have to create all the models from scratch. But there are online resources full of functional 3D models that are explicitly designed for functional use. There are also resources for custom on-demand 3D Printed parts.
McMaster supplies 3D Models for many of their hardware products. These models are provided in the .STEP format so they can me edited and integrated large CAD assemblies, or printed to use in prototyping.
Part Mason is a partner company to Slant 3D. It is a repository of 3D printable models that can be created and used in as final parts in applications. Parts can be downloaded in a number of formats from 3D Printable .STL's to editable .STEP. They can also be ordered printed at any volume, whether it be 10 or 1000. Part Mason is basically a fully digital on-demand parts store.
Finding the 3D models is a challenge by itself. But then you need a 3D Printer that can reliably print those parts. Check out the Mason 3D Printer as a resource for 3D printing functional industrial parts.