5 Ways You Can Use 3D Printing Technology For Your Small Business

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Guest Post by Madeline Dudziak

Also a huge fan of reading – perhaps a natural result of being named after the famous children’s book – Madeline’s Kindle is always crammed with more books than leisure time allows. Among other ways, she spends her free time are fun activities with her husband and young children, volunteering, and participating in two book clubs.

5 Ways You Can Use 3D Printing Technology For Your Small Business

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At one point in time, a 3D printer was something only large scale manufacturing businesses really benefitted from. 3D printers were bulky, and just not easily accessible for someone not in a large factory-type setting. It was helpful in those environments but there didn’t seem to be a clear path to getting 3D printing technology into smaller settings. 

3D printers being for large businesses is no longer the reality, however. Many small businesses have been able to start using 3D printers for their benefit. There are a lot of ways you can use a 3D printer that you may not have considered yet. 3D printing technology is everywhere now. Printers are smaller, more affordable, and easier than ever to use.

If you’ve been thinking about buying a 3D printer for your small business but you haven’t made the leap yet, it’s time to start considering what a 3D printer can really do for you. 3D printing technology could change how you’re doing things now in a big way. If you’re still not convinced, here are five ways you can use 3D printing technology for your small business.

1. Easy, Quick Prototypes

When you’re developing a new product for your business, getting a prototype in your hands can be a bit of a hassle. If you don’t have an in-house production team (and most small businesses don’t) then you’ll likely have to place an order with a large production company. Depending on where the company is located costs and production time can be huge obstacles.

As you’re creating your new product you may hold off on ordering extra prototypes for every small change due to the aforementioned costs. This can result in you not being able to see and hold every design iteration. It can leave you wondering what a small change will do to the look and functionality of your product because you don’t have a concrete example to look at.

With 3D printing, you’ll have the chance to print out your own prototype. Adjusting a small part (or even a large part) of your product’s design to fix a flaw just means you have to print a new prototype. It’s easy to do and design changes are as easy as adjusting the printer plans you’ve already created. 

Being able to print your own prototypes gives you a whole host of new possibilities. In addition to being able to see each design iteration, you’ll also be able to print prototypes for customers or investors to look at or take with them. You’re the one in control of the prototyping process when you use a 3D printer because you have the power to create whatever you need. That’s a big deal.

2. Use Your Printer To Drum Up Interest

Customers love freebies, it’s a fact. Whether it’s a free gift with purchase or a token of appreciation when you give your customers something their loyalty for your business will increase. So offer them something they actually can’t get somewhere else and 3D print your logo onto something. 

When you can offer a unique freebie, even something fairly minor like a coaster or business card that you have 3D printed in-house you will not only save money on incidental free gifts but you will have created something buzzworthy. When the word gets out that you’re offering something no one else can people are going to want to hop on that bandwagon!

If you create demand for your freebie, you can create demand for your business. Consider printing your token in multiple colors. That way your regular customers can collect them. (Perhaps when they have a full set they could earn a special discount?) 

By rewarding loyal customers giving them something you have 3D printed yourself, you could see a big boost in your business. Show your customers a little appreciation in the form of a freebie and it’s a safe bet they will appreciate you right back. 

3. Offer Up Your Printer 

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It may seem strange to think about purchasing a 3D printer for your business especially if 3D printing doesn’t make much sense with your mission. But while 3D printing has a serious fan base in the general public a majority of people have never 3D printed before. 

Therefore it could be fun to offer your customers a chance to print something of their own with purchase. Let’s say you’re in the food or hospitality industry, you could have a promotion where if someone buys lunch they can also print something in 3D. 

There are many things you can 3D print in as little as 10 minutes which really isn’t that much time if you’re sitting down for a cup of coffee in a cafe. While this might seem a little gimmicky at first that 3D printer investment could pay off in a big way in drumming up customers and building interest in your business. 

4. Small Batch Manufacturing 

Even if you aren’t a manufacturing company, a 3D printer can be helpful to print a small inventory of what is needed. While of course there are large companies you can order pieces from it could be incredibly handy for your business to be able to print things you need on your own printer. 

Why would you keep paying for someone else to 3D print your stuff for you when you can do it yourself and save money? Think about whether having a printer can benefit your bottom line and save you time running around looking for things you can quickly print on your own. 

Especially if you find yourself in need of replacement parts frequently, you stand to benefit from printing your own. When you control the quality of the parts you need you can quickly get back to work instead of waiting for a replacement to arrive. 

5. Build A Little Farm  

Slowly we are going to start seeing 3D printing farms popping up the way of old school copy centers. As consumers start to see the benefits of 3D printing they are going to want in on the fun and see the technology for themselves. So it isn’t so far fetched to think you may want to offer customer’s the chance to print as needed by the public.

It would be an easy addition to many small businesses. Obviously, you can use the printers when needed as well, but when they aren’t in use for your prototypes you can set a pricing scale for those who would like to print. It’s a good way to earn some extra income and spread the love of 3D printing around. 

Conclusion: 

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Having a 3D printer for your business can be incredibly beneficial for both your own bottom line and your relationship with customers. No longer are 3D printers only for big businesses and factories. Make sure your small business doesn’t fall behind, consider how much 3D printing technology can help you succeed. 

Madeline Dudziak’s Bio:

Madeline Dudziak loves words. As a web content creator, she crafts messages that help clients inform, educate, persuade, or connect. Madeline’s also a freelance theater reviewer for the River Cities’ Reader, which combines her passion for writing with her passion for theatre. 

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Metal X 3D printing system to prototype surgical instruments

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Metal X 3D printing system to prototype surgical instruments. Shukla Medical is an orthopedic instrument manufacturer dedicated to pioneering truly universal orthopedic implant removal solutions.
According to Zack Sweitzer, Product Development Manager at Shukla Medical, “3D printing the prototype product helps our surgeons test the part in their hands before going into the operating room, so they already have the experience and confidence in the tool. We’re going to bring a lot more products to market faster with our Markforged printers and we finally have the design freedom to do it.”

Shukla Medical

4D Bio3 Technology Edit

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According to Uniformed Services University and NASA, “Using 3D biological printers to produce usable human organs has long been a dream of scientists and doctors around the globe. However, printing the tiny, complex structures found inside human organs, such as capillary structures, has proven difficult to accomplish in Earth’s gravity environment. To overcome this challenge, Techshot designed its BioFabrication Facility (BFF) to print organ-like tissues in microgravity, acting as a stepping stone in a long-term plan to manufacture whole human organs in space using refined biological 3D printing techniques.”

 

The University of Rhode Island

BioFabrication Facility

3D Printing technique and nanoscale fabrication

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According to Sourabh Saha, the paper’s lead and corresponding author is now an assistant professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, “Instead of using a single point of light, we project a million points simultaneously. This scales up the process dramatically because instead of working with a single point that has to be scanned to create the structure, we can use an entire plane of projected light. Instead of focusing on a single point, we have an entire focused plane that can be patterned into arbitrary structures.”

https://www.news.gatech.edu/hg/image/627104/original

 

3D Printing Technique Accelerates Nanoscale Fabrication a Thousandfold

3D printed Terran 1

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According to Relativity Space is a private American aerospace manufacturer company headquartered in Los Angeles, California, “Relativity Space was founded on the idea that Blue Origin and SpaceX were not doing enough to use 3D printing as part of rocket manufacturing. Relativity plans to 3D print an entire launch vehicle they call Terran 1. The extensive use of 3D printing has allowed the company to iterate designs quickly, use less tooling and human labor. In March 2018, Relativity Space signed a 20-year lease at the John C. Stennis Space Center, a NASA rocket testing facility, to test engine components and eventually test full-scale Aeon 1 rocket engines.
The company says it will launch its first rocket named Terran 1 from the site in 2020. Relativity plans to start commercial launch service by early 2021.”

Relativity Space

Relativity, a company 3D printing entire rockets, raises $140 million from venture firms Bond, Tribe

RAW MATERIAL TO FLIGHT

3D Printing challenges and opportunities in the UK

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According to Fabbaloo, “Political, policy, economic and trade uncertainty will continue until the UK reaches future agreements with the EU and other countries and implements such new legal and regulatory regimes as are considered appropriate. This is likely to impact business planning for 2-10 years.
This effect is likely to dampen the expectations of sales managers of 3D print companies, particularly service bureaus who may have been looking for an increased presence in Europe. ”
According to TCT, “While physical products remain important, in the brave new world of 3D printing, products will also have digital versions, and businesses will need to place a much greater emphasis on protecting CAD files.”

 

Could 3D printing keep the UK at the forefront of innovation during economic uncertainty?

Could 3D printing keep the UK at the forefront of innovation during economic uncertainty?

UK IT spending worth £27bn held back due to Brexit uncertainty

What Will No-Deal Brexit Mean For 3D Printing?

MEDTECH

WPI receives $25M ARL award for cold spray 3D printing process

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WPI receives $25M ARL award for cold spray 3D printing process.
Damaged parts on military vehicles can lead to lengthy and costly service delays, but a novel cold spray 3D printing process developed at Worcester Polytechnic Institute promises to provide rapid repair and reduced downtime.
According to Danielle Cote, assistant professor of materials science and engineering and director of WPI’s Center for Materials Processing Data, “The Army is interested in cold spray 3D printing as a repair technique. Danielle Cote is the principal investigator for the ARL project. It’s cheaper to repair a part than to replace it, and you get the equipment back in service faster. The Army’s primary interest is unit readiness. If you’re on a mission and need to move quickly to a safer place, and a critical part on your vehicle breaks, you’re stuck unless you can repair it quickly. That’s where cold spray comes in.”

 

 

WPI Receives $25 Million Award to Bring Cold Spray 3D Printing Techniques to the Battlefield