Before you can introduce 3D printing into your business, you must prove the technology’s worth – to yourself, to your boss, and to your company’s stakeholders. It is difficult enough to make a convincing argument for moving away from established process to a new, unfamiliar one. Without hard evidence to back you up, it’s next to impossible.
Why invest in 3D printing?
Compared to traditional manufacturing methods, 3D printers are cost-efficient and convenient. They allow for quick, on-demand, inexpensive production of models, functional prototypes, factory floor-ready tools – even end-use parts.
By purchasing and using a high-quality 3D printer, you can begin to bring the entire manufacturing process to your place of business. Additionally, the ‘always on’ availability of 3D printers creates a workplace culture of continuous improvement, in which ideas are able to constantly be tested and, when successful, immediately implemented.
While an initial investment into 3D printing will be higher than outsourcing prototypes or customized parts, it has the potential to greatly increase capacity and throughput, if efficiently managed. And the technology’s scalability – you can easily start out with one 3D printer and build from there – gives you more control over your production capabilities.
3D printing should also be compared to in-house processes such as stereolithography (SLA), selective laser sintering (SLS), computer numerical control (CNC), and injection molding, each with different pros and cons. You should carefully consider these before making a final decision – especially when you are attempting to achieve the highest ROI possible. You can find more information regarding the costs of specific in-house processes in our white paper, “The ROI of 3D Printing”.
The ROI calculator
Ultimaker’s three-step ROI calculator can currently provide information for eight industries, from automotive to education. First, select your industry, then an application from the provided options.