Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is a 3D printing technology that uses production-grade thermoplastics to create prototypes, end-use products, replacement parts and much more. These thermoplastic materials are strong and resistant to high temperatures. If your parts will be tested through an arduous process, FDM may be the best choice. There are several ways in which FDM can help improve the flow of product development in different parts of the process.
During the early stages of product development, prototyping your product for form, fit and function is a necessary step. FDM can help in this process by allowing prototype iterations to be made much more quickly compared to traditional methods. FDM models are often less expensive than models produced with conventional materials allowing for a more affordable prototyping method.
Bridge to Production
With the design and prototypes done, the final part is then sent off to be manufactured. This can involve special tooling and processing methods that can take a lot of time to develop. During this time, FDM can be used to make an initial run of the product or jigs to test the final part. This makes good use of what would have been wasted time before the final product arrives.
If you find that your production numbers are under 100 units a month, you could benefit from producing them using FDM technology. If you already utilize traditional thermoplastics in your production, they can be used in FDM. This can result in a 50%-90% cost reduction and a 75% decrease in lead time to produce parts. This will allow for production to be much faster and affordable, which helps to increase margins on every part produced.
End of Life Production
When a product reaches the end of the production life, it becomes costly to produce parts that the older products need to function properly. This could involve having to manufacture, store and maintain jigs or fixtures just to make one part. By utilizing FDM, you can produce one part in hours which saves time and money on things like tooling. It allows for a “virtual inventory” of parts that can be made at a moment’s notice. This also allows for parts to remain in-house and reduces the risk of intellectual property rights being taken.
From early prototypes to the end of a product’s production, FDM can have a huge impact throughout the entire process. It can help save time, money, as well as allow designers and engineers the ability to rapidly iterate on their designs.
Ready to learn more about FDM and thermoplastics? Click the button below to download our white paper, Thermoplastics: The Strongest Choice for 3D Printing.