Nobody wants to waste their money. But it’s easy to get swept up in purchasing trends without asking why everyone wants in on them. One of 3D printing’s greatest benefits is the cost efficiency it creates by allowing the business or consumer to pay for exactly what they’re getting—the volume of a part and the labor associated with it—rather than a large upfront cost.
In short, 3D printing is awesome for the obvious reason that you can create whatever you want, quickly, and with a totally custom design. Another great reason to 3D print is if you need a low volume of custom product and you want to avoid the major upfront cost of tooling associated with traditional manufacturing. There are a lot of other reasons 3D printing is awesome, but those are the ones that drive most customers.
So here’s how could waste your money on 3D printing:
- Creating designs without any design knowledge.
Depending on what you’re making, you could totally get away with this. But there are many factors the average person could overlook, while a product designer would know which details to check. For example, you might want a product with a square hole for a square part, but you need to make the hole a little bigger than the part that will fit into it. It would be like a bunch of Legos that wouldn’t actually click together.
In addition to things like fit clearances, you can also think about the thickness and density of every product. When you’re paying for material, it’s wise to know the size and density that you really need in order to accomplish your goal, which most often is a durable part made as cost effectively as possible.
2. Hiring a company to print a very high volume of simple parts.
One advantage of 3D printing is that the technology can make what traditional manufacturing cannot, when it comes to the shape and complexity of a design. If you just need to manufacture simple products, like a bunch of plates and cups, or simple solid shapes, you’re not capitalizing on one of the technology’s most spectacular benefits. You end up paying for a lot of material.
If the parts are really small, you need them really fast, or they’re designed in such a way that traditional manufacturing couldn’t accomplish the task, 3D printing could be your best bet after all. But if cost is a factor–and it usually is–you want to make sure you don’t cross the point at which the cost of 3D printing actually surpasses the cost of machining and traditional manufacturing.
- Hiring just any 3D printing company.
Some of us know what we’re doing, while others are making money on low quality products. There are several factors necessary to ensure that 3D printing technology is being used to get the best results. The same machines that make the best 3D printed products in the world can also make the worst. The person behind the technology will affect how the product comes out. Ask questions and do your research to find out which companies really know what they’re doing and have the experience to give you what you need the first time.