Graphics Programs Reference
In-Depth Information
10. 3D Printing (Additive Manufacturing)
3D Printing enables engineers to refine and prove-out designs, before committing to costly
manufacturing and production tooling. What's more it is relatively inexpensive, widely
available and plenty of help exists. Importantly, it is also quick and entry level skills and
knowledge required are low. All you need to start is a 3D CAD model. As such, the bene-
fits for small manufacturers are significant.
3D printing is sometimes referred to as additive manufacturing, as parts are built up by
adding layers of material on top of one another. 3D printing during product development is
sometimes referred to as rapid prototyping. For final production parts, it can be described
as rapid manufacturing. 3D Printing has a number of benefits, including speed, low cost
and no expensive moulds or tooling. Other advantages include the ability to create com-
plicated geometry, the production of multiple part assemblies, as well as a broad range of
materials and very little waste. Prototypes can be used at various stages of the product de-
velopment process and a range of design tips exist to help engineers.
A number of common 3D Printing technologies exist for prototyping and production-ready
parts, using various materials. They include SLS, SLA, FDM and DLMS. 3D Printing bur-
eaus offer a convenient outsourced service. These are ideal for small manufacturers who
haven't made the investment decision yet, or alternatively cannot justify the outlay. Most
Bureaus pride themselves on good customer-service and ease of use. They are quick and
convenient, offering a range of 3D printing technologies and are happy to advise on their
respective pros and cons. Bureaus provide an opportunity to 'try before you buy' for those
manufacturers considering bringing the capability in-house.
Finally the Wohlers Report is published annually and provides a thorough review and ana-
lysis of all 3D Printing technologies and their global adoption, together with trend inform-
Consider this; plenty of small manufacturing businesses and engineers have successfully
adopted and fully exploited 3D CAD and its derived technologies. Are they savvier or bet-
ter than you? Of course not! You've got plenty going for you, particularly in your specialist
area. Isn't it time you built on these advantages, by taking your CAD capability to the next
3D CAD Engineering is an exciting, highly relevant branch of manufacturing. The best
manufacturers, small and large, are fully adopting and embracing it. As a result, many are
increasing their competitiveness and thriving. High-value advanced engineering increas-
ingly relies on the application of 3D CAD data throughout the product development and
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