3D printing is synonymous with innovativeness and competitiveness. It is a revolutionary tool and a technology which one day will encapsulate our lives in every sense. A day is not far when these machines will change the rules of manufacturing industry with its amazing features. For small business owners it simply means an opportunity of a lifetime. So, how will 3D printing change the traditional manufacturing landscape and help small companies? The answer is, through its amazing and affordable ideas.
1. Rapid Prototyping
Imagine a giant car manufacturing company. This manufacturer is ready to build its new variant. Unfortunately, the tail light design needs to be tweaked at the last minute. Traditional method of building prototypes would require hundreds and thousands of dollars, not to mention the time it would take and the complex process involved; typically through moulds and moulding machines. Enter 3D printing technology. It can produce a number of design variations in quick time and at a ridiculously low price point. Small business owners can exploit this market by offering prototypes to such entities.
2. Print on demand
The most prominent feature of a 3D printer is its capability of producing components in small numbers. Yes! Whether it is just one piece or dozens, a 3D printer does the job effectively and without any enhanced expenditure or overheads. Small businesses can print “out of supply” parts and reap great benefits. There is no need to stock such components. These obsolete or rarely used items can be batch produced in small quantities and supplied to traders or even jumbo companies as and when the order is placed. This typically reduces inventory and warehouse costs.
3. Prosthetics and Bio-printing
Artificial limbs and internal organs such as heart and tissues are some of the bio-printing ideas which can be exploited by small business owners. Artificial tissues made via 3D printing are actually put to use by several drug manufacturing companies while accumulating data for their new drugs; the reaction such drugs have on human tissues. This reduces the use of animals during laboratory tests. Yet another benefit is the cost factor. Prosthetics and other organs can be produced at a fraction of the cost, helping thousands of people across the world to live a normal life.
4. Addition and subtraction; that’s 3D technology
Intricate and complex items which hitherto were impossible to make due to lack of technology and tools are now possible because of additive/subtractive feature of 3D printers. These printers build complex objects using several individual components.In many cases water soluble materials are used to create mesh shapes or crevices which are just not possible via traditional method. This typically means printing an object with different materials and then dipping the same in water where one of the materials gets dissolved to give birth to a stunning new design.
5. Build Store and Educate
Building a store or a small company that offers personalized products to individuals, celebrities and large manufacturers is absolutely a great way to increase sales. Today, everyone wants to look different, and carry products which offer them a unique identity. Whether it is mobile phone cover, glasses, pouch, purse, shoes or even jewellery, 3D printing technology satisfies this urge and in return fetches huge profits for small businesses. From creative perspective, sky is the limit.
Personalised products market is growing in leaps and bounds because of 3D printers. It offers customisation service at a competitive price which does not burn a big hole in the pocket.
Education is yet another affordable idea to increase revenue. Many people buy 3D printer for personal use. Small businesses can start education centres which offer short term courses on operating these amazing machines.
6. Building intricate, strong components
3D printing technology allows incorporation of several materials such as polymers, metals and ceramics during the manufacturing stage or as a secondary operation. This allows designers to build objects that sport multiple geometries which is impossible to manufacture via traditional way. These intricately created designs are further reinforced by secondary processes such as metal coating or simply removing some of the unwanted material, turning it into an extremely sturdy but light weight building block for an array of uses and areas.
Small business owners can tap this highly challenging arena for greater benefits.
Garry Forster is an Online Blogger for 3DStuffMaker.com. He likes to blog on 3D printing Events, Ideas, Technologies which are related to 3D Printing and 3D Printing Tutorial. Follow him on Google+.