Fail Fast, Fail Cheap: The Wonders of Additive Manufacturing

3D Printers (like the one at MAGNET's facility in the background) and additive manufacturing are providing manufactureres with endless product possibilities and solutions. (Photo Credit: cody.white)

There’s been much talk about 3D printing lately, and rightly so: 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is changing the world’s approach to product development. Innovation in this field is growing and the benefits are inarguable.

MAGNET engineer and additive manufacturing expert Dave Pierson often refers to the additive manufacturing process as rapid prototyping, meaning the ability to quickly produce product prototypes. Pierson points out that this is convenient for quickly preparing prototypes for investors. But, he continues, additive manufacturing offers so much more than that.

Here are Pierson’s five favorite characteristics of additive manufacturing:

1. 100% Customizable

The process of additive manufacturing is almost completely automated- all you have to do is enter the design into the computer, and it does the rest. You are then able to add to, subtract from, write on, color in, and otherwise fashion your prototype until it is to your satisfaction. The result is what Pierson terms the IFR (Ideal Final Result), or “your perfect solution.”

2. Decreased Waste, Increased Savings

The counterpart to additive manufacturing is subtractive manufacturing. Subtractive manufacturing is the process of creating a product by chipping away at a block of material. Additive manufacturing, on the other hand, is the process of creating a product by layering material up. With additive manufacturing, you aren’t wasting material, because you layer only the material that will comprise the final product.  That makes additive manufacturing both efficient and cost-effective.

3. Eliminate Risk

Communication between teams can be challenging, and sometimes the lines between engineers and businesses get crossed. Your business may intend for a product to look a certain way, but find the engineer has interpreted it differently. Soon the resulting prototype is completely off the mark. With additive manufacturing, you can avoid this hassle. You can build a prototype of the product exactly as you envision it before it is actually produced. By collaborating with the engineer on precise 3D renderings of the product, you can address any concerns before printing occurs.

4. Infinite Possibilities

Pierson stresses that his clients must “explore the space.” 3D printing allows for the use of over a hundred different materials, materials that can be used either separately or combined for a variety of effects. Even better, this immense variety can be achieved with minimal time. With additive manufacturing, the sky is the limit; you can create everything from prosthetic limbs to houses.

5. Complexity is Free

Additive manufacturing is done layer by layer- material is added until your design comes to fruition. This layer by layer process allows for complexity and intricacy: details can be ‘grown’ as the printer builds the prototype a thousandth of an inch at a time.

Pierson stresses that with 3D printing, you can “fail fast, fail cheap.” You can rapidly produce a prototype in hours rather than weeks, and if the prototype is a failure, you can tweak it with ease and reprint. On top of that, additive manufacturing is cheap: you aren’t paying for expensive materials or a mold. If a prototype fails, as it inevitably will sometimes, the failure is quick and inexpensive.

3D printing can change the way you do business, making your work more cost and time efficient. If you’re interested in learning more about additive manufacturing, touring our facilities, or using our additive manufacturing resources, please contact Dave Pierson at dave.pierson@magnetwork.org

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Posted by MAGNET Ohio in Additive Manufacturing

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