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Gaining a competitive advantage with 3D printing

Concurrent engineering and 3D printing.

The objective of concurrent engineering is to have more of the participants of the design process performing value added design and development tasks simultaneously in a bid to shorten the overall length of the process, A tool which can assist this process significantly is 3D printing, which enables the participants in the process to view and assess numerous design iterations quickly based on accurate, durable, functional ABS parts. Thus they are able to provide valuable feedback, make choices and decisions and improve the design where necessary.

3D printing allows designers and developers to progress quickly from virtual part in software to physical part in hand. Within a concurrent engineering process, 3D printing enables participants to make better informed design decisions resulting in better quality product design and create a faster product development cycle time. Both these factors are instrumental in reducing costs and necessitate fewer engineering changes.

More design iterations - faster.

So, it’s critical to complete multiple design iterations in a highly cost-efficient manner while providing immediate feedback throughout the early stages of the development process. 3D printing provides the ability to quickly refine form, fit and function, which improves the design and is also key to reducing production costs and time to market. More and more companies are gaining a distinct competitive advantage by adopting 3D printing as an integral part of their design process.

Time on your side

In today’s competitive marketplace, the typical life span of an electronic product can be just six months or even less. Mobile phones seem to be superseded within weeks of their launch. With such short product life cycles, there is increasing pressure on companies to get their products to market first in order to assure success.

“A McKinsey & Co. Study suggests that a product will have lost up to 33% of its potential gross profit over its life cycle if it is late to market by just six months.”

The resulting increase in pressure that is exerted on the design process is very high and forces critical design decisions to be committed to earlier in the process in order to be able to hit aggressive product launch deadlines. The most critical product design decisions are made at the conceptual stage or in the first 10% of the design cycle. Since these decisions typically dictate material selection, manufacturing techniques, and longevity of the design they also dictate almost 80% of the product’s total cost.

With this in mind it’s easy to see the importance of making the correct decisions by evaluating different or multiple design concepts during the early design stages. 3D printing enables this by providing users with a way to quickly and efficiently produce durable, functional ABS parts that provide accurate feedback of the status of the design.