Better, Faster, Cheaper: There is Much More to the Story

3D printing is an enabling technology that promotes better, faster and cheaper products and processes. Discover the key benefits that make this possible.

By Todd Grimm, Editor

In Short
  • 3D printing is an enabler; it is efficient and easy.
  • Use the eight unique qualities to achieve better, faster and cheaper results.

Through countless case studies, we have been shown that 3D printing is a powerful tool for making products better; getting them to market faster; and keeping costs low…we get it.

Your company implicitly expects you to achieve these high-level corporate goals. Forget that and you place your job in jeopardy. At the end of the year, you can justify your value based on these measures. But how you get there is where the real value of 3D printing comes into play.

3D printing is a corporate solution with a very human side. It’s also unique; there’s nothing else like it in the world of design and manufacturing. The unique qualities of 3D printing are the source of its power and fuel for its detractors. Since it is so different, it is difficult to compare the process to established technologies. The measures for traditional manufacturing don’t account for the strengths of the additive approach. This skewing means that in terms of better, faster and cheaper, much of 3D printings advantages may be overlooked.

3D printing is an enabler. It enables you to do things that were previously impractical or impossible. That is how it helps you make better products faster and cheaper. The enabling quality comes from its efficiency and ease. Leverage the ease and efficiency to do much, much more with less.

One way to get more from your 3D printer and counter the metrics of success for conventional approaches is to remind yourself of the eight fundamental advantages that promote efficiency and ease. These benefits are the foundation for all personal and corporate gains.

Eight Advantages of 3D Printing

ZPrinter 650

3D printers offer independence; build your parts as you need them. Z Corporation/3D Systems Corp.

1. Simple, straightforward

To use 3D printing, you won’t need years of apprenticeship to become competent. Fundamentally, there is no art or black magic to printing in 3D. With a few hours of instruction, you can be building parts.

Yet, professionals with advanced applications can take it further to refine the “art” and control the process.

2. Independence

Become self-serving and self-reliant.

With most 3D printers, you can cut out the middleman. Build parts when you need them without the hassle of coordinating with others and getting your parts onto their schedules.

3. Effortless

3D printing is inherently efficient. There is little time and little labor needed to prepare and execute a job. You can move from CAD file to machine in just a few minutes.

Objet24 - complex part

Print complex parts with little thought and no planning. Objet Inc.

4. Thought-less

Nearly any 3D object, independent of complexity, can be printed without contemplation, planning or concern. The questions of “can it be made?” and if so “how?” aren’t part of the process.

5. Simple setup

Just one easy machine setup, without need for fixtures, and the 3D printer is ready to manufacture your part. Load the file, load materials (if needed) and warm up the machine. That is all it takes to get started.

This also eliminates the efficiency concern of breaking down a process to shift to another part, which simplifies scheduling and promotes frequent changeover so that you can respond to urgent needs.

6. Multi-tasking

3D printing is an automated and unattended process. After you press the start button, walk away and tackle all the other tasks of the day. On the other hand, kick of a build and head home for some much-needed R&R.

Batch of 3D printed parts

Batch your parts without making the process any harder. Stratasys, Inc.

7. Mingle and mix 

Without affecting the previous advantages, you can build any combination of parts in a single run. As long as they will fit in the machine, go ahead and build a baker’s dozen — thirteen of the same part; thirteen different versions; or thirteen different parts from multiple products.

8. Flexible

Use a single 3D printer for quick-and-dirty concept models, full-function prototypes, manufacturing aids or full-blown production parts…all at the same time if you so desire.

No other design or manufacturing tool can make all of these claims. This is what makes 3D printing fundamentally unique. This is why it is so powerful. These eight advantages combine to let you do more with less. They help you to work smarter, not harder.

These eight advantages break down the barriers to making as many models, prototype or parts as the project demands. The bottom line — new products with the characteristics that management demands: better, faster and cheaper.