There are constant advancements being made in the world of additive manufacturing. From printers parts to cloud systems, the industry is always looking to advance the capabilities of 3D printing. One of the latest advancements comes from Desktop Metal, a metal binder jetting manufacturer. Desktop Metal has recently launched Forust, a branch company that will specialize in high-volume production of sustainable wood products using recycled wood waste. These products will include consumer goods, car interiors, as well as building materials for homes and high-end architectural pieces.
In a time when sustainability is a major concern for a large number of people, many companies are being championed for their efforts to reduce their environmental impact, especially in the building industry, which has been historically known for having high amounts of material waste. With Forust, Desktop Metal hopes to reduces the need for deforestation as a way to source wood material. Rather, they will be utilizing byproducts from the wood manufacturing industry, such as sawdust and cellulose dust, as well as those from the paper industry, like lignin. These materials are combined with bio-resins and converted into functional wood parts. This gives architects, developers, and manufacturers a new opportunity to produce projects with a significantly reduced environmental footprint.
In addition to increased sustainability, there are a number of other advantages that Forust can provide. In the vein of additive manufacturing, the 3D printed wood will allow the chance to create much more complex geometries that wouldn't be possible with traditional woodworking practices. This will allow much more freedom for designers to create with wooden materials. Further, the materials produced by Forust will be comparable to conventional wood materials, in terms of strength and functionality. These materials can also mimic a wide variety of wood types, such as oak, teak, and walnut, and can even be produced to include various grain textures.
With new technologies like this being introduced everyday, it is becoming more and more evident that we are progressing towards a world of additive manufacturing. Although 3D printing has been around for nearly 30 years, it has only been in recent years that we are beginning to truly explore and develop it's potential applications. That is why it is so inspiring to see companies, like Forust, leading the charge towards a more sustainable, efficient, and affordable future. As a company trying to do the same, we at Slant3D appreciate the efforts being made.
One thing about the 3D printing industry is that it moves very quickly. It is dynamic, and there are constantly new technologies coming out every 6 to 18 months. So, as new developments and technologies come up, the 3D printing industry is making old technologies obsolete. This is especially true with FDM printers, which is what we use here at Slant 3D. After nearly 4 years of operating the World's Largest Print Farm, we have a learned a few things about mass production 3D printing, and the bottom line is, printing farms CANNOT use third party machines. The reason for this is that after about 18 months, your entire infrastructure will be obsolete and need to be replaced. This could be a huge issue if you have hundreds, if not thousands, of machines. So, it is extremely important, for a company that manufactures 3D printed parts, to build their own internal machines.
This is why Slant 3D designed the Mason 3D Printer. This printer was originally designed as a production 3D printer, so we were able to create a machine that: 1) didn't go obsolete in a few years, and 2) allowed us to update the machines, rather than replace them, as technologies evolved. Another big reason we designed the Mason, is because there isn't really a third party machine out there that has been designed for mass production 3D printing. So, it was virtually impossible for us to find a machine that was optimized to fulfill the demand of printing thousands of parts at a time. The reason being, most third party 3D printers are designed for consumer use. These printers have a lot of the bells and whistles that make them convenient and user-friendly, however, they lack any of the optimizations or concessions that you need for mass production. They are designed around the trends of consumer sentiment, which is very detrimental because trends typically become outdated very quickly. Once a product becomes outdated, the designer usually dumps it and moves on to the next trendy thing.
Simply put, there is no way for a mass production print farm to operate and be profitable while using third party 3D printers. The margins just aren't large enough to be able to afford replacing machinery every few years. So that is why Slant 3D decided to build our own machines and why we strongly recommend, to anyone that is seriously looking to start a print farm, to do the same.
One of the biggest advantages that 3D printing has over Injection Molding is its ability to save you money on both upfront and long term costs. By eliminating molds and warehousing, as well as, reducing waste, 3D printing drastically reduces the overhead costs of traditional manufacturing. Let's go a little deeper into each of these cost saving benefits.
For starters, the biggest way 3D printing will save you money is by eliminating the cost of molds. Even a small, single cavity mold will usually costs anywhere from $1,000-$5,000, whereas a larger, more complex mold can be upwards of $80,000. 3D printing completely eliminates these massive upfront costs. So, rather than having to sell hundreds, or even thousands of parts just to make back the money spent on molds, you can immediately begin making profit with additive manufacturing.
With 3D printing being a fully digital process, you never have to worry about storing any of your product. Parts can simply be printed on demand, providing you have the infrastructure in place to be able to address spikes when they happen. 3D printing eliminates the cost of inventory because you don't have to pay for a warehouse to store 10,000 parts for 10 years while they get sold. You also don't have to keep a surplus of parts around in case that part goes obsolete, which is another huge cost saving benefit. Since parts aren't produced until they are needed, you eliminate the loses from obsolescence, which makes up a significant percentage of spare part costs.
All in all, additive manufacturing ends up being the much cheaper option when it comes to mass production manufacturing. The elimination of molds, reducing of waste, and lack of need for warehousing ends up saving you a lot of money, both upfront and long term. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to traditional manufacturing, begin looking into additive manufacturing, and there's no better place to start than right here, at Slant3D.