3D Printers: How to Unlock Their Potential

The potential lies in the breadth of applications for 3D printers. A new white paper spells these out for all of the new and potential users of affordable, office-oriented 3D printers.

Design review with 3D printed partsWith the explosive growth in affordable, office-oriented 3D printers, there is a flood of new users and a huge pool of prospective users. Being new to the technology, or perhaps distanced from it through  service bureaus or centralized machines, the freshman class may not be tuned into all that 3D printers can do for them.

Or they may be so intent on a single application that they fail to see the full breadth of what may be done.  In its white paper, “A New Mindset in Product Design,” Stratasys passes on many lessons learned from the production-class 3D printers, such as, “Many users report discovering diverse uses after acquiring a 3D printing system. For example, a system purchased for functional prototypes might prove useful for building manufacturing tools.”

But that is only one small nugget of wisdom for new and potential users of 3D printers. In the white paper, Stratasys documents the applications and advantages to help unlock the full potential or assist in justifying a shiny new 3D printer to those that control the budget.

After a nice, brief description of the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology, the paper shifts to information that isn’t specific to FDM — or even to its new Mojo 3D Printer under which the paper is branded. So this is an informative document for everyone.

While the paper focuses on product design with the presumed intent of getting products to market faster, with higher quality and with lower cost, there are a few references that extend into manufacturing. Pulling from its vase repository of case studies, the messages are validated with brief descriptions of customer successes.

Overall, this is a great read with lots of good information. I recommend that anyone new to 3D printing download the white paper to get the most out of the technology.