New And Useful Ways to Use 3D Printing
Our Partner Stratasys Direct Manufacturing recently elaborated some significant strategies to identify useful ways to use 3D printing where at a recent convention of professional 3D printing users, Dr. Phil Reeves, VP of Stratasys Strategic Consulting, asked the audience how many people were using the technology to build prototypes. The whole crowd raised their hands. Then he asked how many people had used the technology for tooling – a smaller show of hands. Lastly, he asked how many people were using it to build products – an even smaller portion of the audience. 3D printing has made its mark on the prototyping process, but hasn’t made quite the same strides in terms of its notable advancements in manufacturing tooling or production applications.
So what’s holding 3D printing up from widespread adoption as a tooling and production solution? It’s not like anyone wants hard tooling. Design engineers want to go straight from CAD to part without the constraints of conventional manufacturing. And manufacturing engineers and operations want to build products in the shortest, slickest supply chain they can. But, often the biggest hurdle to adopting 3D printing to slim supply chains and eliminate tooling with its associated labor and costs is not being able to identify the products and business models ideal for the technology.