There is a wide range of different industries, seeing the most widespread application of 3D technology. The different use cases and applications change across various industries but generally include mold tooling, functional and visual prototypes, tooling aids, and end components. As the future potential uses for 3D technology increase, businesses are starting to develop new avenues with this revolutionary technology. This is done through the incorporation of newer technologies into existing business models. These are then used as a foundation for additional functionality and design ideas.
For product development, this technology is increasingly being used in the fields of software and product development. Companies that rely on prototypes as a core methodology for product development find that the cost savings they reap come from not having to build these prototypes from scratch. Instead, they can reproduce them as needed and implement the changes they need. With the ability to rapidly improve the performance of their prototype systems, companies looking to save money have found that the initial investment of a few hundred dollars per machine is quickly recouped through increased efficiency once the product is launched into the marketplace. Likewise, large organizations and government agencies that rely on these types of prototype system improvements also find that the method has a huge impact on the bottom line. While the amount of time it takes to make changes to a product depends on how complex the project is, the amount of money saved on redesigning a product after it has been released is immeasurable.
How 3D printing is being used in this new way of product development is seen in the automotive industry. After a car or truck has been designed and conceptually printed in computerized CAD drawings, the next step is to set about creating the actual physical workstations within a manufacturing facility. This means that engineers and designers are creating actual parts in metal or plastic within the auto parts company using the new tooling methods. Instead of spending a great deal of time and money on drawing up blueprints and putting together a functional prototype as the first step, the designing and testing are already completed using the new tooling.
In another application, this is taking place within the customization of Porsche vehicles. When building a Porsche, the interior of the vehicle has to remain comfortable and well organized. Because this is one of the final products of the design process, Porsche designers have to ensure that the car’s interior works well with the customer’s specification. After all, if they do not completely understand the customer’s preferences, there is a good chance that changes will not go over well, and customers will become frustrated. By using digital printing technology to create the car’s interior or truck, designers can quickly and easily alter the colors, textiles, and fabrics on the car’s interior.
This is just the beginning of additive manufacturing and how it will be used in the future. As additive manufacturing progresses, it will eventually replace traditional product development methods such as 3D computer-aided design and CAD/CAM-based manufacturing. For companies who are already using these methods to produce high-volume consumer goods, the switch to additive manufacturing will not come as a surprise. The cost savings and production time associated with using the new equipment will make it a simple decision for most business owners and managers.
Additive technology is not only set to revolutionize the way that manufacturers and engineers work; it is also set to revolutionize how consumers interact with their cars and trucks. Consumers will no longer have to sit in the dealership and listen to the salesman discuss the benefits of owning an automobile. With mobile printing technology now capable of producing high-quality prototypes from multiple design ideas, consumers will be able to have their cars custom designed at their own homes and have their friends and family know about their customized car.