There are a few misconceptions surrounding 3D printing manufacturing, some of which may be holding you back from introducing it into your business in Singapore. In this article, we will debunk these common misconceptions to give you a clearer understanding of the opportunities that 3D printing technologies and services present.
For starters, the disruptive technology of 3D printing enables a wide array of applications from on-demand production of product prototypes to short-run manufacturing of end-use parts. Depending on your product specifications and quality, 3D printing can cater to large format products, printing up to 1 metre in a single piece and forming even larger parts with assembly. One example of a 3D printed large format product is this automotive prototype for OTSAW which was printed in several pieces and assembled afterwards.
The best part of 3D printing is, it is developed to overcome design constraints of product development. As parts are printed directly layer by layer, its ability to develop more complex geometries offers an attractive concept for many industries. With new design freedom and greater innovation, 3D printing is even considered a breakthrough for the endless possibilities it offers as a manufacturing technology. But keep in mind that 3D printing is not a “one size fits all” solution. It is important to check with your 3D printing company in Singapore if your product is suitable to be 3D printed.
3D printing has, no doubt, sped up the earlier stages of the product development chain of many manufacturers. But while it is known as a rapid prototyping process, 3D printing is also a fast-changing process that creates high-quality parts that can function just as well as commercially produced products. With various industrial grade 3D printing materials offering different engineering qualities, it is possible to achieve real-life application.
From aerospace to consumer goods, the use of 3D printing is increasingly adopted in different sectors. Even in the healthcare industry, we previously discussed how there was a global rise of 3D printing medical equipment due to the COVID-19 pandemic such as medical devices and isolation wards. Your choice of 3D printing material can ultimately determine how suitable your product usage can be beyond prototyping.
Some have misconceptions that 3D printing can only cater to weak, plastic parts such as Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) or Polyactic Acid (PLA). Thankfully, 3D printing technologies have evolved beyond this today. Depending on the structural integrity your product demands, 3D printing is capable of printing highly robust parts. As mentioned above, there are some 3D printing materials that make a better fit for certain applications than others. Nowadays, you can easily 3D print with materials that have strong and improved mechanical properties such as Glass-Filled Nylon, Carbon Fiber and more. Glass-Filled Nylon contains glass particles that give parts high stiffness and improved thermal and abrasion resistance over standard Nylon, while Carbon Fiber combines nylon 12 and carbon fiber to achieve the highest flexural strength and the stiffness-to-weight ratio. With high strength, stiffness and light weight, businesses can opt to replace metal components with materials such as Carbon Fiber for lighter tools, functional prototyping and select end-use parts.
As it eliminates the need for prior tool production with injection moulding, you can expect no extra process cost when fulfilling product orders with 3D printing. In fact, for small-scale production of low-cost materials such as ABS and PLA which can be produced with FDM 3D printing technology, 3D printing can create your required parts more efficiently at a cheaper rate. It may also be more expensive to traditionally manufacture complex parts if you only require a smaller quantity of parts, which is why 3D printing can serve as a viable alternative to complement your product development cycles while increasing the overall cost-effectiveness.
However, 3D printing may not always be the cheaper option. It may in turn be costly if you are producing in bulk or require an extensive amount of post processing. Depending on the 3D printing technology used, it can be more expensive producing the required quantity. Post processing can eventually incur more costs based on your product requirements. Therefore, it is recommended that businesses work with external 3D printing service providers who can advise the cost of 3D printing compared to other methods of manufacturing. This way, you will be able to determine the most cost effective and suitable method of production for your business.
Some have the misconception that 3D printers can print everything – even human body parts. Although 3D printing is extremely useful in the medical industry, this statement is still largely untrue. Today, in terms of medical applications, 3D printing can be used for orthopaedic and cranial implants, surgical instruments, dental restorations such as crowns, external prosthetics and medical devices.
For ISO 9001:2015 certified Additive Manufacturing services and more, our expert team in Singapore can lead you in the right direction of integrating 3D printing into your product development cycle. With over 40 material types to select from, you can truly get the greatest value from your part production through Additive3D Asia. To help you make the best strategic decision for your company, get started with our Digital Part Analysis software to determine if your product is suitable for 3D printing or feel free to contact us for more information.