Posts Tagged "benefits"

3D Printing Predictions for 2015

December 10, 2014
3D Innovations

As 2014 is rapidly coming to a close, people are looking forward to 2015 and wondering what the new year will bring. Everyone seems to be gazing into a crystal ball and now the internet is buzzing with lists containing what products and technology will be hot in 2015.

prototype-3d-printing-innovations-100One technology that is sure to turn heads again in 2015 is 3D printing. As an engineering and design firm we are always interested in the manner in which 3D printing will become more mainstream. 3D printing is a fascinating technology that is currently able to assist businesses in a variety of ways but, we know that there is still so much more this technology can accomplish.

We have found two great lists that focus on 3D printing technology in 2015. One list from Tech AdvisorTech trends 2015: 3D printing grows up, focuses on the continued growth and innovations within the 3D printing (a/k/a additive manufacturing) industry. The other list was produced by GartnerGartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015, and focuses on technology that will impact all aspects of business. Below are excerpts about the future of 3D printing from both articles…

3D Printing Insight from Tech Advisor: “Where the growth is really going to happen is in commercial manufacturing. This is an area where 3D printing is so well established that as a concept it hasn’t been exciting for a few years now. Here it’s new developments such as affordable multi-material printing that are going to get product, furniture, fashion and technology designers exciting – and we’ll all reap the rewards of their efforts.” Tech Advisor goes on to mention the expanded use of 3D printing in medicine. Advancements with prosthetic prototypes is sure increase and hopefully become mainstream to help keep medical costs low. (View more from Tech Advisor.)

Gartner’s 3D printing prediction: “3D Printing: Worldwide shipments of 3D printers are expected to grow 98 percent in 2015, followed by a doubling of unit shipments in 2016. 3D printing will reach a tipping point over the next three years as the market for relatively low-cost 3D printing devices continues to grow rapidly and industrial use expands significantly. New industrial, biomedical and consumer applications will continue to demonstrate that 3D printing is a real, viable and cost-effective means to reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing.” (View more from Gartner.)

What do you think about these predictions? Seem accurate or miss the mark for you? Please share your thoughts on the future of 3D printing with us!

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3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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Supporting STEM Education Through Robotics

February 26, 2014
3d-innovations.com

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Robotics have proven to be a great way to grab the attention of middle and high school students and ignite their curiosity while simultaneously sparking a love for engineering. Designing, building and operating robots involves a lot of hands-on activities (which students love) and the chance to see a project through from beginning to end.

The US Army understands that robotics help students realize their engineering potential, which is why they are a sponsor of the popular VEX Robotics Competition. (View the US Army press release.) The VEX Robotics competition is the largest middle school and high school robotics program in the world. There are over 9,000 teams from 28 countries which participate.

“Robots are a proven way to get kids interested in engineering. The VEX platform combines standardized parts with flexibility in design to enable students to be creative without having to start from scratch.”

The US Army has long embraced technology and some of the fastest growing fields in the Army are STEM related. There is great potential in getting students acclimated to engineering for public and private sector jobs. Although not all students are expected to go on to become engineers, there is value to the curiosity and practical skills this competition fosters.

For further information about the US Army and the VEX Robotics Competition view: The US Army supports STEM through robotics on Engineering.com

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3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Additive Manufacturing is Evolving Quickly

February 17, 2014
3d-innovations.com

An article published recently in the McKinsey Quarterly, 3-D printing takes shape, provides a great comprehensive view of the additive manufacturing industry. If you have not had a chance to view it yet, below are some insightful excerpts as well as a link to the article in its entirety.

Additive manufacturing is evolving quickly. Senior executives should begin preparing for five disruptions that will accompany it.

3-D printing, or additive manufacturing, has come a long way from its roots in the production of simple plastic prototypes. Today, 3-D printers can not only handle materials ranging from titanium to human cartilage but also produce fully functional components, including complex mechanisms, batteries, transistors, and LEDs.

The capabilities of 3-D printing hardware are evolving rapidly, too. They can build larger components and achieve greater precision and finer resolution at higher speeds and lower costs. Together, these advances have brought the technology to a tipping point—it appears ready to emerge from its niche status and become a viable alternative to conventional manufacturing processes in an increasing number of applications.

Should this happen, the technology would transform manufacturing flexibility—for example, by allowing companies to slash development time, eliminate tooling costs, and simplify production runs—while making it possible to create complex shapes and structures that weren’t feasible before. Moreover, additive manufacturing would help companies improve the productivity of materials by eliminating the waste that accrues in traditional (subtractive) manufacturing and would thus spur the formation of a beneficial circular economy (for more, see “Remaking the industrial economy”). The economic implications of 3-D printing are significant: McKinsey Global Institute research suggests that it could have an impact of up to $550 billion a year by 2025.

The advantages of 3-D printing over other manufacturing technologies could lead to profound changes in the way many things are designed, developed, produced, and supported. Here are five 3-D printing disruptions that senior executives should begin preparing for.

1. Accelerated product-development cycles
Reducing time in product development was a key benefit of the first 3-D printing machines, which were designed to speed the creation of product prototypes (and in some cases helped reduce turnaround times to a matter of hours, from days or weeks). Now many industries are poised for a second wave of acceleration as the line between additive and conventional manufacturing blurs.

2. New manufacturing strategies and footprints
As of 2011, only about 25 percent of the additive-manufacturing market involved the direct manufacture of end products. With a 60 percent annual growth rate, however, that is the industry’s fastest-growing segment. As costs continue to fall and the capabilities of 3-D printers increase, the range of parts that can be economically manufactured using additive techniques will broaden dramatically.

3. Shifting sources of profit
Additive-manufacturing technologies could alter the way companies add value to their products and services. 3-D printing techniques could reduce the cost and complexity of other kinds of production and force companies to differentiate their products in other ways. These could include everything from making products more easily reparable (and thus longer lived) to creating personalized designs.

4. New capabilities

Design is inherently linked to methods of fabrication. While there is a wealth of knowledge around design for manufacturing, much less is available on design for printing. Our conversations with executives at manufacturing companies suggest that many are aware of this gap and scrambling to catalog their design know-how.

5. Disruptive competitors
Many benefits of 3-D printing could cut the cost of market entry for new players: for example, the use of the technology to lower tooling costs makes it cheaper to begin manufacturing, even at low volumes, or to serve niche segments. The direct manufacturing of end products greatly simplifies and reduces the work of a designer who would only have to take products from the computer screen to commercial viability. New businesses are already popping up to offer highly customized or collaboratively designed products.

View the entire “3-D printing takes shape” article by McKinsey here.

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3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

To Attract Funding, Develop a Prototype

January 23, 2014
3d-innovations.com

Last week Entrepreneur posted an outstanding article regarding the importance of a prototype when you are searching for funding (To Attract Funding, Develop a Prototype). This article goes on to talk about a few main reasons that investors love seeing a prototype during a “pitch”. Gaining the attention of investors is imperative for many entrepreneurs; and what better way to do that than by having an actual product prototype to let investors see, touch and test?

Here are a few reasons why investors love prototypes:

Creates an emotional connection. Investors are more likely to put up money if they have an emotional connection to the product, and that’s most likely to happen through a prototype. The reason being is people’s attitudes about a product change when they take it into their hands and use it.

It is expected. Standards for prototypes have gone up a lot in recent years due to easy and cheap 3D printing. So in most cases a crude mockup or basic proof of principal model is not going to cut it anymore.

Know where you are in the game. While having the best possible prototype available during a pitch session is critical, not every startup will be able to create a top-of-the-line one. Refinement is expected but having a prototype helps investors understand where you are in the process.

Allows for feedback. With a physical prototype, it is much easier to respond and provide input at each stage of the product development cycle.

Exposes weak points. A prototype can more easily highlight your weaknesses, which could be a good thing, as it helps investors understand what further resources are needed.

To read the article in its entirety, please click here.

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3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Let the 2014 Halloween Costume Planning Begin

November 1, 2013
3d-innovations.com

It’s time to get extra creative with your 2014 Halloween costume and finally win that office costume contest! Check out this video of a custom Halloween mask in the making…

Read the full article about this video on Design News.

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3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Going Green with 3D Printing

October 11, 2013
3d-innovations.com

We are at a moment in time where everyone is trying to conduct business in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly manner (which is a great thing). That is why a recent article published on Engineering.com caught our attention, 3D Printing is Greener.

This article is reporting on a new study, “Environmental Life Cycle Analysis of Distributed Three-Dimensional Printing and Conventional Manufacturing of Polymer Products”, and the study goes beyond measuring material waste and instead delves into the realm of energy consumption. The study concludes that  “…3D printing requires between 41 and 68 percent less energy than making these items in a factory”.  It also states,  “The bottom line is, we can get substantial reductions in energy and CO2 emissions from making things at home. And the home manufacturer would be motivated to do the right thing and use less energy, because it costs so much less to make things on a 3D printer than to buy them off the shelf or on the Internet.”

We found this article to be extremely interesting, but since it is only a single study we wanted to see if any additional research teams had come to this same conclusion, and indeed we found a study conducted by the UC Berkeley mechanical engineering department, in which they released the following article, Is 3D printing an environmental win?, in it they also compare the energy component of 3D printing and traditional manufacturing. They conclude that “…3D printing can be greener, if it’s the right kind (FDM); but again, the biggest environmental win comes from sharing the fewest tools so each has the most utilization.”

There is always progress to be made when it comes to being environmentally friendly; but from what we are seeing so far, 3D printing is on its way to becoming a leading sustainable technology.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on these articles with us!

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3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Case Study: Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing Gets Wet

September 5, 2013
3d-innovations.com

Additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing) provides solutions for a number of every day problems. You constantly hear and read about individuals using additive manufacturing to build replacement parts for common products. Below is a real world situation that was recently encountered and how additive manufacturing was utilized for the solution.

Situation: For a moment imagine this, you are planning for a weekend at the beach full of Stand Up Paddling (SUP), but as you prep your board you find out that your fins are too badly damaged and cannot be used. You hurry to the nearest surf shop and unfortunately they are out of stock of the fins and they are currently on back order, so you try the next surf shop only to find out that they don’t carry the kind that you need. As you start to become flustered you remember a friend that has a 3D printer and he uses it all the time for a range of solutions, so you give him a call to see if he can help…and of course he says “Yes I can print you one today!”

This problem isn’t far fetched at all because we actually encountered a situation similar to this here at 3D Innovations. Luckily we were able to quickly design and 3D print replacement fins for the SUP Board.

SUP Replacement Fins

SUP Replacement Fins

Solution: With the use of additive manufacturing/3D printing, 3D Innovations was able to design and build fins for a Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP). With minimum customization, these fins were designed using a 3D CAD program and produced using Production Grade Thermoplastic material using additive manufacturing.

SUP Replacement Fins in Action

Replacement Fins in Action

Once the 3D printing process was complete, the fins were removed and installed onto the paddle board. To ensure the durability and strength, these fins were actually tested in waters off Oahu (Hawaii). While it is hard to measure a difference in performance, the fins did provide an alternative to off the shelf parts and were easily customized to fit the specific model of the SUP board.

Our President & Chief 3D Officer, Collin Kobayashi, explains the entire SUP fin design and manufacturing process in this video.

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3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Bringing CAD (Computer-Aided Design) into the Classroom

July 18, 2013
3d-innovations.com

Most think of CAD and 3D modeling as technology that’s taught at the college or professional level, it is now trickling down to high-school and even middle-school classrooms. CAD increasingly is shaping the education of America’s youth in ways that far outstrip its original application as a drafting tool. Its use is helping to shore up the country’s supply of engineers by instilling a passion for technology use at a young age.

When it comes to fostering students’ interest in a subject current wisdom says the window of opportunity is closing by the time students finish middle school. That, together with an emphasis on the importance of teaching process and critical thinking, is what’s driving the push to introduce CAD technologies to students in the third through twelfth grades.

3D Academy, the educational branch of 3D Innovations, focuses on bringing CAD into the classroom. Our program curriculum is structured and designed to give students a head start in their careers as well as exposure to industry practices. Curriculum is focused on pre-engineering principles that integrate CAD, engineering design, drafting, and manufacturing.

Opportunity and exposure to STEM fields are key to fostering interest, but a student’s belief in his or her ability to make a contribution to the professional world is an important precursor to pursuing what often is a hidden dream. CAD is helping students gain that confidence.

Resources:

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3D Academy, A Division of 3D Innovations, LLC provides training services specializing in 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) Technology.

Additive Manufacturing Benefits Business

June 20, 2013
3d-innovations.com

There has been a popular article circulating from the Manufacturing Business Technology website about the top five benefits of additive manufacturing that you have probably never considered, and we found it very insightful and wanted to share some of the article highlights with our 3D Innovations community. (Click here to view the article in its entirety.)

Top Five Benefits of Additive Manufacturing (You Never Considered)

The following are the top five benefits of additive manufacturing that highlight where the technology is taking us today.

1. Freedom to design and innovate without penalties

If there is one thing product engineers can count on, it’s modifications and redesigns; and it is one of the most important aspects of designing. Additive manufacturing is no longer just about the physical creation of a part. It brings design and innovation to the forefront. Having this creative freedom in the production process, without time or cost penalties, is the ultimate advantage over traditional manufacturing. This is especially true when you consider that over 60 percent of designs submitted for tooling are modified while in production. In traditional manufacturing, this can quickly lead to significant increases in cost and time delays. Additive manufacturing mitigates this through the movement away from static designs while enabling engineers to try multiple iterations simultaneously with minimal additional costs.

Companies do not have to tolerate design flaws that come with amortizing the cost of the tool before starting over. This freedom to design and innovate without penalties yields big rewards: compressed production schedules, better products, more product designs and ultimately, more products.

2. Increased supply chain proficiency with ‘3D faxing’

Think faxing is a technology of the past: think again. In the additive manufacturing world, it is the future and it has huge implications to helping manufacturers control their supply chain. Contract part manufacturers like RedEye On Demand have proprietary Internet communication technologies (ICT) that enable proficiency with supply chain management and global production orders. It works by allowing companies to manufacture via the internet through access to a global network of 3D printers and production systems. Companies are able to eliminate constraints and barriers so that design files can be processed digitally in one central location, and then 3D faxed to any printer on the network around the world, creating global digital factories.

One of the best aspects of the process is that it eliminates lost time and costs associated with shipping parts globally. Parts can be created at a digital factory near the manufacturing facility when and where they are needed, eliminating the hassle of customs, duties and inspections. General shipping and transportation fees are minimized through the process. Additionally, additive manufacturing allows for real-time visibility to production and receipt of parts, further increasing time and cost savings for part and original equipment manufacturers.

3. Support of green manufacturing initiatives

By now, it may have already occurred to you that additive manufacturing significantly streamlines traditional methods. This compressed process also equates to a smaller environmental footprint. When considering the mining process of steel or the retooling process required in traditional manufacturing, it is easy to see where additive manufacturing warrants consideration as a sustainable alternative.

Global digital factories, like RedEye On Demand’s, allow companies to access a global network of 3D printers and production systems to manufacture via the internet.While additive manufacturing relies on electricity, a relatively small amount is required to produce parts. Additionally, there is little waste as only the needed materials are used and the plastics are recyclable. And with 3D faxing there is significantly less trucking of parts. Additive manufacturing is also effective in the light-weighting of vehicles and aircraft, which is important in mitigating harmful fuel emissions. In fact, components produced using additive manufacturing processes like Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), allow manufacturing engineers to build solid parts with a semi-hollow honeycomb interior. These parts have an excellent strength to weight ratio that is equivalent to a solid part. The difference, however, is that these components can be as much as 65 percent lighter than traditional, subtractive manufacturing methods, which have tremendous impact on fuel costs of the final product.

4. Bottom line improvements through factory physics

One of the fastest ways to improve a company’s bottom line is by mitigating risk and increasing predictability. Using a framework known as factory physics, the all-digital additive manufacturing technology makes unpredictable production methods predictable by gauging factory loads. With online quoting engines and a part’s volume that CAD software can easily compute, engineers are given real-time delivery dates. At the same time, 3D printers have a known volume and capacity that can automatically be tracked and measured at any given moment. This ability to manage and automate factory loads means pricing becomes dynamic based on the factory physics at that moment. It also gives engineers a more efficient means of controlling pricing by mitigating risk of unpredictable scheduling or the fear of interruption to the supply chain. 3D printers can read CAD files to know how long it will take to build a part and how much material is needed before it’s even on the machine. This allows the ability to better plan capacity, give accurate delivery dates to customers and schedule factory capacity by forecasting future needs without interruption.

5. Get parts – fast

Ok, so you likely have already considered parts on demand as a major benefit of additive manufacturing, but it warrants repeating. Being able to access parts almost instantaneously allows a more fluid product development and design process. This brings us full circle back to freedom to redesign without penalties. For additive manufacturing, speed is the name of the game at all phases – quoting, production and shipping. This includes parts needed for end-use applications or for those where it makes sense to use the technology as a bridge to traditional manufacturing.

Whatever the case, all of the stories are the same and most end with additive manufacturing acting as the bridge. When one supplier fell through for an automotive manufacturer who was building machines in Asia, they turned to additive manufacturing to produce 250 ABS thermoplastic pieces instantly in order to keep the factory running. Without these parts on demand enabling continuous production, the factory would have been idle for weeks.  Similarly, for a government application, parts on demand meant saving lives of our armed forces when the production of military flashlights, used in battle, were put on hold because of retooling. With additive manufacturing available to help validate the new design, it allowed manufacturing assembly to kick in while tooling caught up. According to the purchasing manager, without additive manufacturing’s ability to redesign the part overnight, they would have had to wait 12 weeks.

The demand to obtain parts quickly will continue to rise, especially as the industry becomes increasingly comfortable and familiar with enabling technologies like additive manufacturing. In fact, traditional manufacturing companies are already beginning to increase the number of onsite additive manufacturing machines to fill the void. It is only a matter of time before the most significant benefits of this technology are realized and the future of manufacturing is transformed into global digital factories.

What 3D Printing Means for Small Business

April 25, 2013
3d-innovations.com

3D printing is wowing entrepreneurs and enthusiasts because of its extreme flexibility. It has applications for almost any industry or field” (Yahoo Small Business).

Small businesses have found that 3D printing has not only helped on a per product basis, but overall it has made them much more competitive in the marketplace. Below are four ways in which 3D printing benefits small business:

  1. Prototyping: You can now have a sketch in the morning of a product idea and by the end of the day, you can hold that product prototype in your hands. Yes this IS possible! 3D printing has simplified and streamlined the prototyping process for businesses. When you are able to modify your product design and prototype in a matter of a week or so, sending the final design to the manufacturer just became that much easier.
  2. Personal Customization: 3D printing allows you to personalize renderings and products for each individual consumer. You are able to use different materials, tweak the product design and add additional customized features so that you provide your customer with exactly what they are envisioning. “Imagine people tweeting or sharing their personally customized version of your product that fits them perfectly. A business could easily market the base design for a product, and tout its customizability to consumers everywhere” (Yahoo Small Business).
  3. Manufacturing: Cutting out the “middle man” on short production runs means that your business will be able to get your product to your consumer much faster and at a lower cost. Also, consider this, in the future a business might also be able to offer their product designs to consumers through a purchasing process so that consumers can download the CAD file and print out their own product at home.
  4. Leveling the Playing Field: 3D printing allows small businesses to take on larger corporations in their field because of the quick product turn around times and increased flexibility. “There are a ton of companies, from one- and two-person organizations to sub-100-person organizations, that actually make themselves competitive with the 10,000-pound gorilla in their particular marketplace because of the advantages they get with 3D printing,” says Bruce Bradshaw, marketing director of Objet” (Entrepreneur). Not all large corporations have been quick to adapt 3D printing technology, and thus they have left themselves vulnerable to smaller and much more flexible businesses that are embracing the technology.

The efficiency of 3D printing has transformed business and will continue to have an ever expanding impact as the technology evolves and becomes more mainstream.

If you are interested in learning more about 3D printing and the advantages it can have on your business, contact us at info@3d-innovations.com and would be more than happy to discuss this with you!

Resources

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3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the  3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.