High Volume, Production 3D Printing is able to produce thousands of parts per week, eliminating warehousing and providing more flexibility in the design and production of parts. But there are several misconceptions and great abilities that people overlook.
3D Printing is often considered a slow process for making parts. 1 part at a time that is true. That is why we deploy hundreds of 3D printers, in our printing farm, all working in parallel so that even though a single part might take an hour to print, we are still producing hundreds of parts per hour. Capacity constraints can sometimes slow down production of orders, just as with any process. But we are constantly building out more capacity so that is mitigated as much as possible.
A Node of the one of the Slant 3D Printing Farms
FDM 3D printing has a decided advantage over all other 3D printing processes. We are able to to create any pantone required by the client in our plastics. Other processes are generally limited to black, gray, or white. If you want a specific color it is exorbitantly expensive. FDM printing allows us to create a part in any color of the rainbow, and everything in between.
FDM is one of the most versatile 3D printing processes created. If a material can be put into a thermoplastic filament then it can be printed with our machines. For this reason we are able to manufacture parts with materials ranging from simple Bio-plastics and ABS up to Carbon Fiber Nylons. We have even started work with metal printing which will allow us to print parts and then sinter them to create complex metal parts. Out own material production capabilities also allow us to continue to experiment and develop new materials and mixes. So if you need a plastic we can make that plastic
A Carbon Fiber Nylon 3D Printed Part
3D Printed parts are often considered to be weaker than injection molded or machined parts. It is true that the properties of a part vary based on the direction of loading, based on the orientation during printing. This property is refereed to as anisotropic. But this issue is vastly over-stated and often just wrong. The reason it is so prevalent is that designers have been attempting to apply traditional design principles to the 3D printing process. That is the equivalent of trying to make an aluminum plane the way you would make a wooden one. Similar end goal, very different details. If an additive part is appropriately designed for the process then it can meet or exceed the performance of traditionally manufactured parts. And we have a team of engineers who are standing by to help you optimize your designs for the process. Slant 3D has also developed new methods of 3D printing parts which reduces the anisotropic nature of the pieces. In many cases we can achieve 90-95% the strength of an injection molded part the part in the Z direction using additive processes.
This is another common misconception. The idea that 3D printing is 5-10x more expensive than other methods at scale. Large scale 3D printing is generally less expensive than injection molding up to 20-50000 units just on the savings of tooling. Long term, the on demand nature of additive can make production cheaper than other large volume processes because warehousing costs are reduced which can constitute 10-25% of the cost of a part over its production lifetime. Then there is the traditional understanding that 3D printing is cheaper than molding at low volumes just because of the savings in tooling. In this situation 3D printing can be 5-10x less expensive than molding.
Hopefully we have cleared up an fogginess about the capabilities of 3D printing and the parts that is creates. Is it a perfect process for everything? No. No process is. But it does offer a lot of advantages in cost and supply flexibility. If you are interested in getting a quote for your project with production 3D printing please contact us and one of our engineers will get in contact with you immediatly.