3D printing is no longer the reserve of technology and manufacturing industries. Today, 3D printers are being used in a wide range of different businesses, from piping artistic food at a Michelin star restaurant in the culinary space; to printing personalised drilling guides for dental implants.
With 3D printers more affordable, accessible and user friendly than ever before, now is the time for small businesses to grasp its potential.
Smaller printers with increasingly easy to use software have allowed the process from idea to design to print to be achieved within seconds. This means that even small businesses with little manufacturing or design knowledge can start making their own personalised and useful designs. Small businesses no longer need to seek a third party manufacturer to make objects which can enhance their way of working or surprise and delight their customers.
Investing in a 3D printer may well change the way customers see your business. A company that is experimenting and making the most of new hardware can present their brand as one that is at the forefront of the latest technology and innovations.
One of the benefits of 3D printing for businesses is the efficiency and ‘on demand’ nature of the process. The stages of production that businesses have to endure with third party manufacturers can take a long time, particularly if businesses are only looking to produce prototypes. The manufacturer may be going through a busy period and not able to process your order in the time frame that you had hoped and even when the product is finished, there is no guarantee that it will be to the exact specification and design that you had initially envisaged. A 3D printer can give you control of the production process to give you the flexibility to produce cheap and effective prototypes in house.
These benefits are also suited to small businesses who want to produce customised products for their customers. This means never having to settle for the limited options that are available elsewhere, because whatever you create in your head can be easily transferred and designed using the software, and then printed in front of your eyes to your specification and under your control.
The other significant advantage to owning a 3D printer is down to cost and quantities. Some manufacturing companies may only accept a minimum order on a number of products – so if you only want to make a handful of customised prototypes– this could cost far more than if you design and print them from your own office. In-office 3D printing means that you only need to produce what you need, when you want without ordering in large quantities. And of course with 3D printing, if your first prototype doesn’t work out, you can also make a few tweaks and print out a new one!
If you want to experiment in creating something new and be at the cutting edge of a new technology, there’s never been a better time to invest in a 3D printer. With user friendly software combined with increasingly powerful and accurate hardware, companies can use the technology in a way which suits them best. 3D printing need not reside within its preconceived boundaries in the technology and manufacturing industry, especially since the technology has now advanced to the point where it is truly accessible.
Small businesses are innovating every day and wowing the world with new uses for 3D printing. We can’t wait to see what happens when a new wave of businesses get their hands on their own printers.
Chris Elsworthy, CEO of CEL and creator or the Robox 3D printer
Image source: Dollar Photo Club