Advantages of 3D printing over traditional manufacturing (2)
R&D, prototyping & testing.
One of the biggest and most immediate advantages of using additive contraction techniques is the ability to create a limited number of ‘test’ designs and models. To previously create these beta versions of products would have been a time consuming and costly process. This also greatly reduces the time spent developing new products, not to mention the amount people needed to fabricate a new concept into a working prototype.
Final fabrication and distribution.
For now, short run and individual products are the biggest benefactors of the additive manufacturing process. Each product can be fabricated without the need of building a new assembly line or tooling machines, greatly reducing the cost of these smaller scale productions. Where 3D printers could take the biggest bite from the cost of manufacture and distribution is by consumers printing products themselves. Using additive manufacturing to fabricate their own products at home with 3D printers, the only thing to manufacture and distribute is a 3D CAD file! Delivery of these new digital products would simply require a server where customers could download the file for the product and then replicate at home.
Spare parts and repairs.
With any physical product there will be a need to have a stock pile of spare parts to allow consumers and professionals to repair their products in the event they break or are damaged. The cost of producing, storing and distributing these spare parts can be enormous, but with home manufacturing, spare parts could be downloaded and made at home. The cost is reduced greatly by efficiently supplying spares, as only the parts needed would ever be made.