3 Dimension Print


Dimension 3D Printer Range

Enhancing your design process with 3D printing

It is well understood that the process of designing can be a costly and long winded affair. Whether designing mechanical products, electro mechanical gadgets, works of art, bridges or buildings, the process can become protracted, will go through many iterations and may evolve through an element of trial and error.

When designing an item the desired path is to produce the perfect product, that fits the brief, in as short a timescale as possible, taking into account all the variables and constraints imposed along the way. By keeping the process short then costs are reduced but design typically takes many turns and loops away from the desired straight line as multiple changes are introduced.

These design and engineering changes become exponentially more expensive with each step in the design process. An Industry Report by Wohlers states that a modest engineering change costing £100 in the Proof of Concept phase of design might cost ten times as much in the Development phase, could cost nearly a thousand times as much in the Production stage – and a staggering ten thousand times as much by the time the product is in service!

Prove your design early

It is critical then that the design is as “perfect” as possible as early as possible in the process. Design changes should be made early on to avoid large cost implications. This is where 3D printing steps in by enabling all those involved to review accurate models, early on in the design process when changes are less expensive to make. It also stands to reason that the more functional the 3D printed model the more valuable the model is since it more closely represents the actual production part. ABS plastic models are more robust for example than powder based models. So, when designing a mobile phone, the casings can have snap clips and the internals assembled and screwed into the housing the same as in the final product.

Successful product design requires review and input from many sources. 3D CAD files, finite element analysis, heat flow analysis and renderings may be used to help define the product but these can be misinterpreted by anyone from design engineers to marketing executives. When a 3D CAD design is transformed into a physical 3D print there’s no substitute for the tactile and visual feedback a physical model provides to all participants in the design process.

Using 3D printing immediate feedback is generated on aesthetics ergonomics, form, function, weight and more in a medium that is understood by all. This invaluable information can be used to drive numerous design iterations and provide the much needed confidence to pursue a particular design path.

Enhancing the odds

Each year a considerable number of new product initiatives fail.

The current business climate dictates that companies ask their employees to do more with less; 3D CAD systems and 3D printing capabilities are now essential tools to enable efficient product design and development. With 3D printing, companies can now experiment with new ideas and numerous design iterations. Iteration times decrease and so does the need to invest in expensive tooling. All these factors help to determine whether product concepts are worthy of allocating additional resources before the expense is committed...