There are a few different ways that 3D printing is having a big impact on the product design process, and on manufacturing in general.
Prototyping: 3D printing allows for inventors and product designers to easily produce functional prototypes that can be very similar to production parts, both in terms of material properties and aesthetics. Technologies like Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and Stereolithography(SLA) allow designers to test out their ideas using production-grade materials, without having to worry about tooling. Because 3D printers can cost-effectively produce single parts, it’s much easier to go through multiple prototype iterations without breaking the bank. 3D printing is even used now to create the molds that wind up being used for final production.
Design Flexibility: Because 3D printers can produce really complex or challenging geometries (lattices, hollow spaces, etc), designers can work without having to worry about many of the limitations of injection molding or milling. 3D printers can easily produce shapes that would be extremely difficult if not impossible using other methods.
Because of this, designers can now design complex 3d print object gallery as one part which would otherwise have to be assembled from multiple parts. This allows for more efficient and, sometimes, more structurally stable designs.
Customization: Because 3D printing is more adapted for lower-volume production runs, it allows for product designers to develop more specialized or customized items that don’t necessarily have a very broad market appeal. When you don’t have to justify high-volume production, it frees you to create more niche products, or to design limited-edition products. Lots of the designers at Cad Crowd, for example, create really interesting designer jewelry. 3d printed jewelry
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