One of the principle uses of Additive Manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D Printing, parts in the consumer goods industry is to produce prototypes and models. Ultimately, models and prototypes can help companies get their products to market quicker, meaning they profit from a competitive advantage over those that move more slowly.
The range of uses that the models are put to is extensive. For example, our customers use models to undertake market research – both with consumers and buyers. Because AM parts can be made quickly and easily direct from CAD data, they are used for repetitive testing on complete products and component parts. They are also used to test fit, form and function.
3T has also built multiple sets of parts for consumer goods manufacturers which are used when the production line is being built and set up. Having the components to run down the production line enables the customer to build and test the line efficiently before going into full production.
Models can be painted and fully finished then used for a range of marketing needs, such as photography for boxes, in advance of production run products becoming available.
When selling a product – whether to the buyer of a major retailer or to an investor to gain funding – something that the buyer or investor can touch and experience delivers a much stronger message than a drawing. Our products are used as selling tools and have appeared (successfully!) on Dragons’ Den on a number of occasions.
As well as working with manufacturers we also work with a large number of consultant product designers – a group who were amongst the first to see the benefits and adopt Additive Manufacturing processes to test their designs. Additive Manufacturing gives designer rapid prototypes which can go through any number of iterations to reach the optimal design.
Having the ability to produce production quality parts without investing in expensive injection moulds is one of Additive Manufacturing’s key advantages.
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