Begin production without the delay and expense of tooling. Manufacture low volume highly complex parts quickly and affordably.
For low-volume manufacturing, traditional methods of making production parts are evolving. Instead of machining parts or cutting a tool for molding, direct digital manufacturing (DDM) is a cost-effective and simpler alternative. Now the production process can start as soon as the part's CAD file is sent to an additive manufacturing system. Although the part aesthetics may differ from an injection-molded part, accuracy and strength are comparable. No matter how it is employed, 3D printing allows manufacturers to ultimately present a better product to the customer, now and in the future.
Why manufacture parts with additive manufacturing systems vs. traditional methods?
- No waiting for machining or tooling
- On-the-fly design changes and enhancements can be made during production cycles
- Just in time inventory possible
- No machining or tooling costs
- Customers realize ROI after just a few jobs
- Reduced inventory requirements - components can be made on demand
When to Use
FDM has unprecedented benefits for low-volume manufacturing. It can also be used to bridge the gap between product concept and traditional manufacturing processes. The following are manufacturing applications for which FDM is well-suited.
Pilot production: Pilot production is commonly used to simulate full production in mass-production industries. It often leads to a better product, lower development and manufacturing costs,a more efficient manufacturing operation, and reduced time to market. FDM can be used in this stage of production planning to quickly build one-off products and tools designed to speed the production process along.
Bridge-to-production: This technique is an interim step between prototyping and full production that allows manufacturers to build products for sale while manufacturing tools and production processes are being created and/or finalized.
Low-volume production: Sometimes manufacturers build their businesses around the production of highly-customized, highly complex or low-volume products. In situations like these, FDM can maximize sales opportunities while minimizing cost and lead-time because there are no minimum order parameters to fill.
End-of-life production: As a product nears the end of its life cycle, investments in repairing or replacing tooling may not be justifiable. FDM can be used to extend a product’s life by manufacturing spare parts on an as-ordered basis, thereby eliminating the need for physical inventory.