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3D Printed Prototypes: Helping Inventors Bring New Products to Market

New advances in 3D printing remove many barriers from bringing products to market that prevented inventors and entrepreneurs from achieving success before. Producing prototypes and first production runs are often costly for an inventor. In the past, getting a new product to market involves taking on risk by paying for expensive tooling and materials that can drain a bank account.  Sadly, many budding entrepreneurs lost their prized savings and failed without enough working capital to produce the product. Older version of 3D printers produced rough prototypes that took a great deal of time to print from brittle materials. Today, when properly used, 3D printed prototypes can save an entrepreneur thousands of dollars and valuable time.  And increase their chances of success by getting their products to market faster.

Advances in 3D Printing

Rapid advances in 3D printing are creating rapid advances in innovation. Earlier 3D printers produced rough and fragile models of an idea.  Today, printing high pressure fittings and structural parts are possible with smooth finishes from high strength materials. 3D printers can now print up from 250 different  materials including plastics, rubber, metals, ceramics, leather, human tissue and even meat. New printing technologies allow for metal printing.  Interiors of products can be hollow and save significant weight over machined parts.  

Over the next 5 years, new stereolithography methods are expected to increase printing speeds of complex shapes with up to 50-100 times the speed of traditional 3D printers.  Along with less material waste, larger productions will become more feasible for start-ups.

How far can this technology go?  Pretty far! Recently, a father and son team even 3D printed the exterior of a Lamborghini Aventador. How many new products are now feasible with just this new capabilities?

Rapid 3D Printed Prototypes and Production

3D PRINTED PROTOTYPESThis new technology allows for faster product development cycles and continuous improvement by rapidly producing iterative versions of a prototype. Speeds have dramatically increased  and finishes have become production quality. 3D printers were primarily used for rough prototyping or models.  However, new advances allow for much more.  Depending upon the material, functional prototypes now can have the same strength, finish and utility as a finished product.  

Increased speed, new materials and quality improvements have made small to medium production runs economical.  In some cases, producing small production runs of a 1,000 units are possible saving on huge up-front costs that allow them to test the market with lower risk. 

So what does it take to 3D print? Typically an inventor has their product designed in 3D CAD.  Solidworks is a fairly common CAD software that engineers use. The Design Engineer just needs to convert Solidworks file into a 3D Printer friendly .SLT file. 

Business Opportunities

3D printing unlocks many new invention ideas and business opportunities for entrepreneurs.  This technology enables mass customization, continuous improvement and rapid product/market testing. It  provides nimbleness to bring your product “first to market” in an ever competitive market where finding a contract manufacturer, paying for tooling costs and planning around production delays are no longer a concern.  

Small parts that were unimaginable to produce with conventional machining technologies can now be produced with 3D printing.  Often the cost and effort for producing multiple tooling sets thwart an entrepreneur from taking the risk to produce a product that requires multiple variations to address a market need.  Multiple versions or sizes of a product are now feasible through 3D printing without any tools at all.

The convergence of 3D scanning with 3D Printing opens up many new innovations with organic design and reproduction businesses.   Imagine a classic car where a part is broken and no longer produced. Creating a 3D scan of that broken part and printing from that file with a 3D printer can quickly reproduce a new part from lighter and more suitable material.  Reproducing jewelry or complex models made from clay without having to design them on a computer open up many possibilities for innovations 

Join the Innovation Movement

Now that you have a better understanding of the 3D printing and its capabilities, it is easier to see why you should consider a 3D printed prototypes of your idea. Taking the time to understand this new technology and thinking through your goals will help you choose the path that gives you the best chance for success. New Product Consulting is a leading invention help company that can assist you with taking your idea from a concept in your head to a product you hold in your hand.

For more invention help information and a Free Consultation please contact us https://newproductconsulting.com/contact-us/ at New Product Consulting!

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