In the last two years, there has been a significant change in the way local companies are now using 3D printers right across their businesses according to Dermid McKinley, managing director of Tasman 3DPrinters in New Zealand and Australia.
“We’ve clients using 3D printing for designing appliances, low volume, end use production of laser cutters; others creating injection moulds for short run production. Most customers produce simple jigs and fixtures using their 3D printers, let alone the obvious use of product design,” he says.
“That is the real change we have seen; that 3D printers are being utilised right across organisations, and not just for the product designers. Sales and marketing teams, production and maintenance departments, they can all see the advantages of using 3D printers,” says Mr McKinley.
Many of New Zealand’s most successful companies on the world stage have embraced 3D printing technologies for many years. They lead their chosen fields because of their high levels of innovation and the speed at which they can operate. The integration of 3D printing technologies has been critical to their success.
“What we are now seeing,” says Mr McKinley, “is the uptake of professional grade 3D printers across an ever growing range of companies, and not just the industry leaders.”
In many ways the age of 3D printers being the realm of the ‘early adopters’ is finished he explains. 3D printers are becoming a necessary tool for an ever growing number of companies.
For a typical manufacturer in New Zealand, a single professional grade 3D printer could be used for all of the following applications quite simply.
Rapid prototyping: 3D printing is being used to create physical replicas of new parts or product designs, often referred to as rapid prototyping. These changes have dramatically reduced design cycles. A product that would need a month to go through three or four design changes in the prototyping phase now takes a week. Products are getting to market faster, and companies are saving significant time and money.
Marketing and sales: 3D printers are proving incredibly useful to many marketing and sales departments. Sales and marketing managers can now do presentations and pitches to customers, providing the real look and feel of parts and components earlier in the process. This is allowing closer customer relationships to develop.
Design iteration: 3D printing has moved beyond prototyping into first-run production, allowing for market testing and rapid design iteration. Engineers, working in conjunction with sales departments, and customers can explore dozens of variations and test them all, fine-tuning a product’s performance to be the best it can be.
Low volume production: With traditional manufacturing, a company has to create tooling or moulds before a single end use part can be produced. Today, for production runs of less than 1,000 items, many companies will consider 3D production as a cost effective alternative.
Production parts: Manufacturing companies making a new product typically also manufacture a supply of spare parts, producing large quantities that are expected to meet demand for 10 years or more. But holding inventory is very expensive due to costs associated with inventory, obsolescence, warehousing, insurance, tracking and distribution. With 3D printing production, you make what you need, when and where you need it.
Companies throughout New Zealand, and all over the world are benefiting from increasing productivity and innovation through integrating 3D printing technology into their businesses.
Contact via www.tasman3dprinters.co.nz.