8 Reasons Why a 3D Printer Can Make Your Job Easier

February 13, 2014 at 10:00 AM


You’ve put all your brain power and muscle into this design.

 

Each specification and measurement has been plotted with precision and then double checked again. You’ve even made the proper re-adjustments.


So you send your specifications out for production.


But then your client informs you that the design needs tweaking. It won’t work unless their request is facilitated. Without delay, but maybe a bit of frustration, you adjust again and then the tooling process begins…

 

 

Here’s an alternative



A 3D printer might just be what you need.


If your work world is composed of complex processes that dictate the design and testing of product models, there’s finally a way to cut out some element of surprise.


The 3D printer has erupted as one of the hottest new technologies generating a buzz of discussion on its endless possibilities. Home-users could make toy trucks and dolls for next year’s Christmas gifts. Or even turn on their printer that’s housed in the kitchen to make “homemade” raviolis. A Chocolatier is able to use their 3D printer to craft the next batch of chocolates. A medical lab can test a prosthetic leg with nothing more than a customized design and a click of the PRINT button.


It doesn’t stop here.


Our engineer’s here at L-com have discovered that this manageably sized machine allows them to see the results of their designs within a matter of hours. It can crank out product after product in a short amount of time. They are able to try out various shapes and sizes before going to market, as they did with an L-com field termination cover that will be going to production soon (shown above).

 

"Our 3D printer allows us to have almost instant feedback without spending the money or time on tooling, which can cost over $2,000 and take over three months to build,” said David Frisello, Design Engineer at L-com. “It takes the guesswork out of our job. And it's like a toy."

 

3D printers work by adding layer upon layer of plastic (or other required material) through holes in a printer head to compose a solid three dimensional prototype from a digital model. This tool let’s engineers turn an idea or a sketch into an object that can be turned over in your hands and passed to co-workers to prove the idea works.

 

As if these printers aren’t already cool enough, our engineers toyed with the 3D printer to find that it can actually manufacture one solid model that turns into two movable pieces (shown at left). Since each prototype is made in a foundation of a chemical material, this one was peeled away to reveal the two “keys” that are looped together.

 

 

 

The Weigh In



We’ve discussed what the 3D printer can do. So how will it help you?


Here’s the list of reasons we think the 3D printer is worth its weight in gold for an engineer’s job:


1.  It provides almost instant feedback on a design, as it takes only about 2 hours or less to print a functioning prototype.


2. It saves time. The 3D printer cuts down the process of getting a product to market by eliminating steps along the way (i.e. sending out for tooling).


3. When printing your product first on a 3D printer, it eliminates guesswork. You’re able to test out a prototype’s functionality- see, feel, and even smell or taste what the final product will be like. If that’s your thing, we won’t be tasting any connectors or termination covers over here.


4. It’s precise. You can be sure that the specifications imputed into the 3D printer will come out exactly the way you directed (unless the printer malfunctions, of course). In our experience, it will provide nothing but accuracy.


5. Communication is easier since a customer or colleague can physically see how the product will turn out. Dan Desjardin, Mechanical Engineer at L-com noted that “many times it’s easier to communicate with 3D models to convey something as opposed to strictly words or 2-D drawings. It helps to overcome any language barrier and reduce confusion between both parties.”


6. Cost. The printer will pay for itself if the tooling process for your products is costly like ours. It can cost anywhere from $600 to $3,000 for one tool (depending on intricacy of the product), which would need to be remade a second time if the measurements needed adjusting. If with every product release the testing is accomplished by only using 3D prototypes until the final tool is made, then the long term effect is cost saving.


7. Efficiency. We’ve found 3D printing to be clean and non wasteful. We never encounter drips or sprays of material around the prototype or see excess material being lost. Plus, it’s easy to use. Once the product design is programmed it’s a hands free process. Hit print, walk away, and return to find your glory.


8. Customers will be pleased that you/your company are using the newest, cutting edge technology for your products and services. You’re keeping up with the times. Everyone knows a happy customer equals a successful business.

 

Here are a few more prototypes that our 3D printer has created (white material only):


     

                                         

                               

 

Visit our Facebook page to see how a giant 3D printer can build a house in 24 hours!

 

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