3D printing can cut costs by accelerating production and reducing tooling costs, work-in-process, and waste. Here are some design considerations for making this happen.
3D printing (aka additive manufacturing) has gone far beyond making prototypes quickly. It is now entrenched in manufacturing, and examples abound:
- The Juno spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin and NASA and currently completing its mission in orbit around Jupiter, carries a dozen 3D-printed waveguide support brackets.
- Activated Research Co. used 3D Printing to develop a new design for its Polyarc gas chromatography catalytic microreactor, bringing it to market in just 15 months.
- Raytheon uses 3D printing for rocket engines, fins, and control components for guided missiles, creating parts in hours rather than days.
- Boeing set a world record in 2016 by building the largest 3D-printed item ever made, a fixture used in building 777 airplanes, reportedly cutting weeks off its manufacturing time.
- Brunswick Corp. relied on 3D printing for air conditioning grills on its Sea Ray yachts, eliminating the need for disposable tooling and speeding product development.
- This air-conditioning grill for Sea Ray yachts was 3D printed.