Many businesses today need 3D printed parts and many are evaluating if they should include it in their product development and manufacturing. Many companies are aware of the benefits that 3D printing services and technology has to offer them, especially in identifying prototypes and producing parts. In this world where technology plays a vital role, in order to get ahead of others and be a success, companies need to have a competitive edge. One way to do this is by employing 3D printing technology. Below are some factors you need to consider if you plan to use this technology.
Applications for your 3D prints
The applications that you plan to use your 3D prints for need to be your primary consideration. If you will just be using a print-scaled model early during the design process just to check the feel and look of new concepts, then a small desktop printer can do this job. On the other hand, if you will need it for full-size functional prototypes, you should go for larger and more robust machine.
Number of 3D printed parts
It is very important to consider the variety and volume of the parts. If have a need for high mix of part designs at a low volume, this would entail a lot of concept and prototype applications. With this, it would only make sense that you invest in a machine as you will not need different systems to work at once. If you plan to print high volumes of a low mix of part designs, this will be the time to turn to 3D printing services that has an extensive team and capacity to provide repeatability and consistency.
Familiarity of your Team
Engineers and designers have always adhered to DFM or design for manufacturability, as well as assembly rules for modern manufacturing methods. While it frees many designers from traditional constraints and helps engineers to create parts for their desired fit, function, and form, there is a learning curve as far as designing for every 3D printing is concerned.
It’s a good thing that this printing technology has been a part of mechanical engineering education. Deciding to bring a 3D printer in-house would mean that you have to train or hire new talent. If you do not have adequate resources to fully understand the system, you can resort to outsourcing in order to minimize the risks and compensate for expertise or resources that does not exist before making a big investment.
What is the Budget and Timeline?
Are the parts needed immediately? Do you have enough time and money to make the necessary adjustments to your manufacturing and engineering operations to make them accommodate a new process? If the parts are needed immediately, is it a model or a functional part? For this, it would be best if you work with a service provider.
It is necessary that you consider the physical work environment and if the printing equipment is compatible. There are some systems that tend to be more office-friendly compared to others. Some systems are safe and clean for office environments as they use powder materials that involve careful handling and higher processing temperature that need a controlled environment.
By considering these things, you can better decide whether you should buy your own system of just opt for services that are also widely available.