3D Printing in Marketing and Product Development
Visual mock-ups and functional prototypes are the most popular applications for 3D printing. The reason is simple. Having in hands a physical article facilitates designers, marketing teams and technical departments to have an accurate estimation on both the impact of the product in the market and the various aspects of manufacturing.
Benefits of 3D printing prototypes
- Make design mistakes earlier, when they cost less
- Reduce scrap, rework and tool modifications cost
- During part development, having a real article in hand, highly improves communicaton of all involved parties
- Choose the best design by 3D printing multiple design iterations
- Design better products because you have better information
- Use functional prototypes to begin real world testing faster
- Use the prototype to receive potential customer feedback sooner
- Reduce time and cost to market
If a picture is worth a thousand words what is a 3D model worth? One that you can hold in your hands, touch, feel, move around, and see how it works. Quickly confirm how the parts fit together or how they don'’t. Make your mistakes faster, while you are still figuring out what you want to do. Measure the size or shape of the part. Is it how you pictured it in the design process? What is the impression of your market group?
Improve communication with a 3D printed prototype. Imagine every person, or every department, regardless of location, being on the exact same page because they are all looking at the same 3D printed concept model. Not sure which design iteration is the best? Print them all and test them out. There is no tooling cost per part. Rapid prototyping with 3D printing can enable you to design better products because you have better information literally at your fingertips.
Being able to verify your design before cutting any metal tooling is a huge time and money saver, but what not everyone realizes is that 3D printing materials have advanced dramatically over the years and can be used to test the functionality of the part as well!
Compared to mature technologies like injection molding, additive manufacturing is a niche technology, thus developments are frequent and substantial. Equipment, materials and technics improve every day. Static perceptions are not allowed. Strength, weathering resistance, printability and cost is a discussion strongly related to the exact point of time. Tomorrow new chances might be available!