Trimming the Waste: How Some Are Saving With 3D Printing

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Look at any random product or appliance you use on a regular basis, like a toaster or cellphone. Each product has its own set of parts that were initially created by engineers, and then subsequently by manufacturing processes.

It’s a fact that making any part is an expensive endeavor. From tooling to metal supplies, everyday manufacturers spend thousands of dollars every year on parts creation alone.

Times are changing, however, and manufacturers and consumers are exploring new avenues. Parts made through 3D printing are now becoming more common. Explore the features of 3D printing and how some in the engineering world are looking at it as a cost-saving measure.

Reduce lead-time on backordered parts

In the recent past, engineers and service personnel dealt with backordered parts on a regular basis. A part that wasn’t in stock had to be ordered. Shipping costs added up while clients grew increasingly frustrated. You may have lost customers or contracts with a tiny part that just wasn’t in stock.

Currently, 3D printing eliminates backordered parts. An engineer can simply call up a part on a computer and send it over to the printer. As a result, a repair or project can be completed without any lost time.

Free up warehouse space

Stocking hundreds of parts on the off chance that they’ll be needed has always been a waste of space. However, being without that one part spells disaster. Most industries simply deal with the fact that parts will take up space as part of typical, industry life.

Creating parts at your facility whenever they’re necessary is the attraction of 3D printing. Because it’s an on-demand process, you don’t stock parts anymore. Use the space for alternative needs that generate revenue.

Help save the world

Companies are also realizing that saving money isn’t everything when it comes to 3D printing. They’re actually saving the world. 3D printers can create nearly perfect coral pieces. They’re set to be placed in the ocean so that real, coral polyps can attach to them. The result is new, coral reefs that improve the world’s oceans.

Smart business people understand that taking care of the world is part of saving money overall. It just takes some creative thinking.

Pick the material

One of the most common reasons for part failure is improper material choices. The engineering department was forced to use a material that they didn’t approve of because it was more cost effective or readily available in comparison to desired materials.

Many different materials are available through 3D printing today. From low-cost plastics to fire-resistant materials, these substances can be formed into almost any shape, such as:

  • Carbon fiber
  • Metal
  • Various plastics

Reduce weight in engineering applications

It’s no small feat to put an airplane up in the air. Engineers are constantly looking for the lightest materials to put up in the sky.

That’s where 3D printing comes in handy. The aerospace industry demands lightweight parts, and they can have them with plastics layered out through advanced printing processes.

Create these parts, such as:

  • Seat frameworks
  • Air ducts
  • Armrest end caps

Every item is as light as a feather for a safe flight.

Improve processes

Manufacturing can include a lot of waste. Creating parts left waste from trimmed items or defective molds. 3D printing doesn’t require any trimming, since a part is literally built from the bottom upward. By reducing waste, the manufacturer saves money and helps the Earth out on an environmental level. Win/win.

Sparks creativity

Engineers used to have many limitations when it came to their design concepts. Their ideas may have been too expensive or difficult to prototype. With the help of 3D printing, almost any idea can be tried out in its infancy.

Engineers can print out items that might work for their needs by using inexpensive materials. If the part ends up working for the application, it can be mass produced. 3D printing encourages creative thought that will only drive every industry forward.