3D Printing For Your Small Business

You have probably heard about the amazing things that can be produced on a 3D printer. Edible foods, prosthetics, even a 3D printed aircraft that took off and landed on its own gear! While 3D printing has been around for a little more than 25 years, the technology is quickly becoming more affordable and accessible. For the last few generations, 2D printers were the only available printing technology. Ideas and proposals were relegated to flat, on-paper representations of what computers were able to design. Nowadays, businesses large and small are able to take advantage of 3D printers to create products and prototypes custom to their needs and the needs of their clients and customers.

3D printing is the process of creating a three dimensional object from a digital model. The user creates a custom design using 3D CAD software. The user then sends their design to their 3D printer and thin layers of material are overlaid upon each other to create a final 3D shape. 3D printing technology allows you to create any shape or figure, from models and prototypes to common items and spare parts like cogs or screws. 3D printing has proven to be an efficient technology for manufacturers, architects, industrial designers, educators and artists of many kind.

Manufacturing a product from inception can be daunting to even the most confident entrepreneur. Creating a product from the idea stage to a working, sellable model traditionally used to require a significant investment of time and money. To ensure that a design will work properly in its final form, several prototypes may be necessary before a product is considered ready for mass production. In the past, each prototype would have taken days to produce, often some distance away, and could cost hundreds of dollars. But with 3D printing technology, producing a one-time model or several versions of a redesigned prototype can be quick, inexpensive and easy. You no longer have to wait for your design to be produced long distances away by specialized manufacturers, as 3D printers have become much more readily available.

Businesses with occasional or one-off needs can also benefit from 3D printing technology. Do you need a small run of branded items for customers or employees? 3D printing offers a workaround to minimum order commitments (which can run in the thousands), making branded items for your small business possible and convenient. Are you in the business of creating bespoke items? 3D printers make it possible to create your own high-quality, custom products, from customized working guitar picks, to art and jewelry pieces.

As a small business or independent designer, investing in a 3D printer may be out of your scope at this time. However, you don’t need to own a 3D printer to benefit from this technology. 3D printing technology is now readily available, regardless of where you may be located. 3D Print services are also available online. These models allow the customer to submit their files remotely, with their final product being shipped back upon completion. Need it now? Local print shops (including some The UPS Store locations) and even some libraries have invested in this technology as an in-house service to their clients. Depending on design complexity, printing a consumer project could take a few hours, or more than a day.

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