Making the Best of 3D Printing Technology

Making the Best of 3D Printing Technology

Held: 25th October 2017

Venue: Meritronic

Chapter: Milpitas

With 3D printing set to take over and provide a huge opportunity for startups, what trends can you expect in the future?

Top Takeaways

1. 3D Printing Has it's Problems

3D printing currently isn't always the best option. It can take a long time and it can be difficult to actually get what you want, every single time. Additionally, the quality may not always be there. The quality isn't, for example, considered "aerospace" quality. In other words, it's not fail-proof. Aerospace quality can refer to things that are so good, so foolproof, that they can be trusted every single time. It's something that can be used on a commercial airliner or spacecraft. Currently, the aerospace industry doesn't trust 3D printing, which means the quality isn't quite there yet. However, the quality is getting better over time. Some of this quality can be easily improved by taking meticulous records of your 3D printing process, so that any time an error occurs, you can trace the steps of creating that piece right back to the beginning, and know the cause. Metals also still cause issues in many cases, because of the range of temperatures used to 3D print with metals, and the higher likelihood of error when doing so.

2. Custom 3D Printing Isn't Scalable 

3D printing isn't entirely scalable as far as custom prints are concerned. Yes, there are many good uses for custom 3D printing (hearing aids, dental items, etc.), but they're costly. With this cost not expected to go down in the near future, this is something to consider.

3. Custom 3D Printing Does Save in Other Ways

Custom 3D printing does save money in other ways, though. For example, most of the work and labor needed in 3D printing comes in post-processing. The actual creation of a piece hardly needs any human labor at all. While creating a custom hearing aid by hand would be labor-intensive and costly (in terms of human pay), it's nearly nothing to do the same with a 3-D printer. Now, you still have that post-processing cost, though, but some organizations are using robotics for these roles, eliminating the human aspect.

4. 3D Printing Profit is in the Materials

For many printer manufacturers, the real 3D printing profits are in the materials. Just like with a paper printer, you'll probably spend far more on paper and ink than you will the actual printer. The same is true with 3D printing. Some manufacturers go so far as to restrict use of other materials on their own printers, requiring you to buy exclusively from them. However, many others are branching out and allowing a more open printing experience. 

See photos from our event, here!

About The Speakers

Finbarr Watterson

Finbarr Watterson

Hardware Evangelist

Fin is a hardware evangelist at Fictiv, a manufacturing platform specializing in rapid 3D Printing and CNC Machining. At Fictiv, he works closely with hardware developers to de risk production at the prototyping stage and runs workshops on design for manufacturing topics. Prior to Fictiv, he spent 4 years helping hardware companies move from prototype to high volume manufacturing in Shenzhen, China with PCH International and Highway1.

Matt Wilson Plasek

Matt Wilson Plasek

Business Dev Director

Matt is the Business Development Director at PolySpectra, an additive manufacturing materials company printing rugged parts that match production properties. Prior to that he ran a startup focused on advanced manufacturing for rapid tooling. Matt cut his teeth in manufacturing during graduate school at Princeton University, where he led development of a high-power plasma rocket experiment for much-improved space travel.

David Liu

David Liu

Enterprise Account Manager

David Liu is currently building out a west coast office for Formlabs Inc. Mechanical Engineer by trade with an MBA in entrepreneurship. Specializes in helping start-ups & Fortune 500 companies go to market faster through 3D printing.

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