3D printing is a kind of rapid prototyping technology. It is a technology that builds objects based on digital model files and uses bondable materials such as powdered metal or plastic to print layer by layer.
3D printing is usually done by using digital technology data printers. It is often used to make models in the fields of mold making and industrial design, and then gradually used in the direct production of some products. The technology is used in jewelry, footwear, industrial design, construction, engineering and construction, cars, aerospace, dental and medical industries, education, geographic information systems, civil engineering, guns, and other fields.
How does 3D printing create value and profit
There are many companies in the world that do 3D printing processing services, but few can rely on it to make money in China. On the one hand, because China’s traditional manufacturing industry is too mature and developed, the products produced by the new manufacturing method of 3D printing are temporarily not competitive with products produced by traditional technologies in terms of product performance and processing costs. On the other hand, although there are many practitioners in the 3D printing industry, there are very few people who can really play the potential of this technology’s huge added value.
At present, only some giant companies in the world that have invested a lot in 3D printing technology research and development can create value through 3D printing, such as GE, Siemens, Airbus, BMW, Johnson and so on. The product value of these giant companies is very high, which also gives them enough profit margins to invest in more process research and development, accumulate more professional experience in 3D printing, and give play to the potential value of this technology.
Generally speaking, if you want to make profits from 3D printing products, you must first have a very complete business model to support product sales; in addition, the added value of the printed products needs to be very obvious (often requiring a large upfront cost to develop, Including optimization design, simulation analysis, process adjustment, performance certification…), this added value is often manifested in:
- Complex structure (lightweight, efficient combustion, efficient heat exchange, etc.)
- Function integration (improve overall reliability, no hinges, no welding, no assembly, etc.)
- Personalized customization (extreme user experience, perfect match to the requirements of random working conditions)
- Fast delivery (no mold opening, small batch products, rapid prototype concept)
Of course, evaluating the added value of a product is a more complicated model, which often needs to be analyzed in conjunction with specific actual cases. But generally for manufactured products, the above 4 points cannot be bypassed. Therefore, if you want to earn money from 3D printing processing services, the core element is to master the professional needs of certain specific industries, maximize the added value of products as much as possible, and use your professional experience to help customers solve actual engineering problems. It’s not just the processing capacity itself.
Compared with CNC processed products, the defects of 3D printed products
- The strength of the material. Compared with the prototype processed by CNC machining, the hardness of the prototype printed by 3D printing is very different. Therefore, we recommend CNC machining for prototypes that require hardness.
- Easy to change color. The prototype made by 3D printing may change color if it is not stored properly.
- Cannot meet the characteristic requirements. Corrosion resistance, flame retardancy and other properties are not ideal, and only through CNC machining can have the original material properties maintained.
- Easy to deform. The prototype printed by 3D printing, if the wall thickness is small, is prone to deformation, resulting in distortion and scrap.
Compared with the traditional manufacturing industry, the defects of the 3D printing industry
- 3D printing can create complex structures that cannot be produced by traditional techniques.
It is mainly reflected in the weight reduction design of various spacecraft, such as integrating multiple parts into one. There are also various hollow grid-like designs, the core of which is weight reduction. The other is to optimize the design. In the past, the designer often designed an optimized structure and sent the drawings to the factory for production. But the factory often responded that they couldn’t make it, and need to change the design. Now the most optimized and complex structure can be directly 3D printed.
- “No mold needed” is a double-edged sword.
In traditional production, for example, if I order 10,000 pieces of a product, the factory needs to make a mold to produce one to see the effect, or make one by hand to see the effect. If the effect is good, then spend money to develop the mold. The cost of the mold is evenly distributed to each product and it will be very small. What 3D printing solves is the trial production. There is no need to open the mold for testing, and directly print and shape. Compared with manual modeling, it saves time and cost. However, in the mass production process, the efficiency of 3D printing is too slow to meet the mass production requirements. Moreover, the cost of 3D printing 1 piece of goods and 10,000 pieces of goods is the same, and the cost of mass production is too high. At present, it is mainly used in the trial production stage of the product.
In summary, the current 3D printing technology is a supplement to CNC machining. At present, 3D printing still has problems such as high cost, low efficiency, and relatively poor accuracy. However, 3D printing technology has developed rapidly in recent years and its prospects are unlimited. In addition to the advancement of technology itself, what is more important is the combination of design and 3D printing technology: traditional designers have domesticated the subtractive manufacturing process, and they can now only design products that are suitable for the subtractive manufacturing process. The cost of using 3D printing technology to produce the products they designed must be higher than that of traditional subtractive manufacturing. Now our most important job is to fully communicate with designers, let them understand the process characteristics and technical advantages of 3D printing, let them combine the technical characteristics of 3D printing when designing products. Only make changes from the source design side can give full play to the potential of 3D printing.This is also a trend in the development of customized products. It is very likely that everyone will use different furniture and daily necessities in the future. In the future, we will no longer go to Amazon to buy existing products, but design ourselves or let designers design our own. The personalized product is then submitted to the cloud factory for production, which is the real customized product.