Finding success in 3D printing is a great way to speed up production and cut back on manufacturing costs. However, this technology isn’t as easy as just sending a finished 3D model to a 3D printer and crossing your fingers. There are a lot of potential tripping points throughout the full design and production process.
In this guide, our 3D printing experts at CAD/CAM Services are here to discuss how outsourcing can simplify the full 3D printing process. We’ll give you specifics and show you exactly how to save time and money by outsourcing.
3D Printing Is One of the Best Manufacturing Styles, But…
In the past few decades, 3D printing has become one of the go-to manufacturing styles for any company in any industry. Massive Fortune 50 automotive companies and small mom-and-pop electronics stores use 3D printing.
As great as this manufacturing option is, it’s unlike any other traditional machining when it comes to engineering. What do we mean by that? Well, the parts need to be designed in a very specific way, and you don’t need to worry about 2D manufacturing drawings. These two points alone can complicate a design for anyone who’s used to designing for manufacturing.
This is just something to remember as you design your part for 3D printing. In a lot of ways, the design is simpler, but there are a lot of caveats and pitfalls you need to avoid in order to make sure the part is printable.
What Part of 3D Printing Can You Outsource?
The full 3D printing process spans from initial concept generation all the way to final production. How many steps of this process can you outsource? With a partner like CAD/CAM Services, all of them:
The Concept Phase
The initial concept phase involves spitballing ideas, making some sketches, and talking to other engineers to understand the practicality of your design choices.
Of course, you can outsource this phase with no worries. In our experience, this is the one phase that our clients typically start themselves before passing the project off to our in-house experts.
You can come with a very simple, vague idea of what you’re looking for, or you can come with a full preliminary sketch of what you want. In other words, you can choose to skip this step and just outsource the entire project.
The Design Phase
In the design phase, we’ll start putting together a prototype model that might turn into the final product. It involves a lot of CAD work and a deep understanding of how 3D printers work, to ensure the part will be printable.
This phase is the most popular phase to outsource. You can allow our team to take your napkin sketch from the previous phase and create a fully functional 3D model on CAD during this phase.
It’s also the phase where you can save the most time and money, since it’s often the most involved and difficult phase of any 3D printing project.
A 3D printer creates a small turbine fan for an automotive company’s prototype.
Any Reverse Engineering
What if you have a legacy part that you need to reverse engineer, or you found a way to save money by 3D printing a part in your inventory? This is another area where outsourcing stands to save you a lot of time and money.
Luckily, our team has a ton of experience in reverse engineering. We have complicated (and very expensive) 3D scanning equipment that can take full scans of your part and convert it into a usable 3D model within minutes or hours.
Comparatively, you could easily spend days trying to reverse-engineer the same part without this equipment.
Finding the Right 3D Printing Company
Finally, let’s talk about the actual 3D printing. Most companies don’t have their own industrial-grade 3D printers in-house, so you’ll need to find a company to handle the physical production of your prototypes and final parts.
Another benefit of CAD/CAM Services is that we can handle your 3D printing. We can provide up to 2,000 units a week through our network of full-scale 3D printing production facilities. We also provide a wide range of different 3D printing types, from plastics to metal, ensuring you’ll get the best results every time.
Why You Should Outsource Your 3D Printing CAD Work
Now that you know what you can outsource, let’s discuss why you might outsource your 3D printing CAD work in the first place.
Get 3D Printing Experts in Your Corner
If your in-house engineers don’t have experience designing for 3D printing, or 3D printing parts themselves, there’s a very high chance that your project won’t run as smoothly. Even though 3D printing seems so simple, there’s a decent learning curve associated with it.
Making a model that’s successfully 3D-printed on your first try is almost unheard of.
When you outsource your 3D printing work, then you’re accessing our 3D printing experts that can help throughout the process. We know tips and best practices that you might not have ever considered. Choosing our team means creating parts that are easier to 3D print and more successful in the field when you implement them.
Ensure Every CAD File Is Ready to 3D Print
Another problem is that it’s difficult to create models that are ideal for 3D printing, since this technology is so different from CNC machining. By outsourcing, you can ensure that all of your CAD files are ready for 3D printing.
If you wing it and try this on your own, you might get an unfortunate phone call from the 3D printing shop you choose, saying that your part can’t be made. This will set you back a lot and result in a panicked attempt to fix the model and send it back to them.
Are you willing to roll the dice and potentially waste time and money on your next project? It’s just not worth it, you could outsource this work and skip all the headaches.
An outsource engineer reviews the 3D-printed design with a client, explaining how much time and money was saved on the full process.
Save Time on Each Part
Another aspect that we didn’t mention is how much time goes into making a 3D-printable part. Yes, you don’t need to make 2D manufacturing drawings, which speeds up the process. However, making the model itself is still a big undertaking.
Things get more complicated as you look to optimize material usage, understand how your part will react to forces, and simulate cyclic failure.
Instead, you can outsource the 3D CAD work to CAD/CAM Services and save a ton of time on every design. We’re here to help you achieve perfection faster than ever.
Allow Your Engineers to Work Elsewhere
The final point to mention is that outsourcing 3D printing work frees up your in-house engineers. This is an even bigger point if your engineers don’t have first-hand experience with 3D printing — they’ll spend a lot of time trying to understand how the process works and how to correctly design their part.
With all of this extra wasted time, your list of projects will be pushed back and you’ll start to overload your engineers.
Alternatively, consider outsourcing this work. Your engineers can continue with their projects and work on revenue-generating designs that help your company while we handle the 3D printing work.
Our team can be as hands-off as you’d like. Some of our clients like daily check-ins, others prefer weekly progress reports. We’re happy to help in whatever capacity you’d like us to.
As you just learned, going through the full 3D printing process without previous experience is daunting. You can waste a lot of time and money through this process, and face a ton of headaches throughout. Or, you could outsource to our 3D printing experts at CAD/CAM Services. We’ve been in business for decades, and we’ve successfully 3D printed countless designs over the years. Trust us with your upcoming project, and get a free quote today.
This article was last Updated on September 5, 2023