3D printing is an additive manufacturing process that creates a three-dimensional object by adding material layer by layer until the object is complete. 3D printing is a different way of producing products compared to more traditional manufacturing processes such as thermoforming or injection molding.
3D Printing vs. Traditional Manufacturing
3D printing is a great option when manufacturing custom parts or prototyping.
When choosing between an additive manufacturing process or a more traditional manufacturing process such as injection molding or thermoforming, there are a few guidelines that can help you decide on the process right for you.
3D printing is the best option when only a few parts are required, and you need a quick turnaround time and low costs. It is also the best method to use when a part geometry can’t be produced with a formative manufacturing process.
For larger production, methods such as injection molding are more cost-effective.
3D printing offers optimal flexibility when it comes to unique geometric custom parts. But when high volumes, tight tolerances, and demanding materials are required, formative manufacturing processes are usually the best option.
Benefits of 3D Printing
3D printing offers a lot of benefits such as lower costs, customization, and quick turnaround times.
- Customization of All Parts. 3D printing allows for easy customization and since startup costs are low, you only need to alter the digital 3D model to create each custom part. Every item can be customized to the needs of each individual without impacting manufacturing costs.
- Geometric Complexity. 3D printing allows for easy fabrication of shapes, which can’t be produced with more traditional manufacturing methods. Geometric complexity at no extra cost at all. They cost the same as simpler 3D parts that are produced by traditional manufacturing methods.
- Low Startup Costs. In manufacturing such as thermoforming or injection molding, each part requires a unique mold that must be created first. These tools and upfront costs come at a high price. 3D printing doesn’t need any specialized tooling, meaning no startup costs. 3D printing costs rely on the amount of material used, the time it took the machine to print the physical three-dimensional object, and the post-processing.
- Quick Turnaround for Prototyping. One of the main uses for 3D printing is prototyping. Prototyping is done at a fraction of the costs of other methods and at a much faster speed. The speed of prototyping can accelerate the entire design cycle.
- Specialty Materials. Most common materials used for 3D printing are plastics. 3D printed products are heat resistant, strong, stiff, and biocompatible.
3D Printing Material Types
3D printing plastics are lightweight materials that have a variety of physical properties and are suitable for both prototyping and functional applications. Plastic materials used for 3D printing are either thermoplastics, which are usually suited for functional applications or thermosets, which are used more for visual applications.
API has multiple 3D printers on-site and have the ability to print parts in the following materials:
Applications of 3D Printing
3D printing is a manufacturing process that can universally benefit anyone, regardless of industry or profession. Some of the most common industries who use 3D printing include:
Contact Us for Your Next 3D Printing Project
Searching for a 3D printing company in the Southeast area of the U.S.? Advanced Plastiform, Inc. offers customers the expertise of staffed engineers and on-site manufacturing and inventory management. From concept to delivery, API is your answer for 3D printing, custom plastic products manufactured in North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Tennessee, and Georgia.