3D Printing: If Not Now, When?

(Submitted by Mick Whitt, Manufacturing Business Development Specialist, Manufacturing and Technology Small Business Development Center, OSU South Centers)

So what are you waiting for? If you need a prototype, a sample product for a potential customer to evaluate, or even replacement parts for your equipment, why haven’t you tried 3D printing?

I realize the answer to this question usually involves the cost of buying the technology and the 3D printer itself but in reality this is not an excuse anymore. There are many companies, and other resources, available to produce your potential 3D printed parts. While there is still a cost to these services, it is typically much more cost effective than the standard material and machining, or casting, process would be. This is especially beneficial when the part is only a prototype or for the viewing purposes of a customer that only wants to “see” how the product is going to look.

All you need is an electronic model to send to the printing company and you’re in business! Most 3D printers accept files in the STL format. Nearly any CAD software can produce a model in an STL file. Many of the companies producing 3D printed parts also have assistance available to produce the electronic model for you as well.

For more information and available resources for your 3D printer needs, feel free to contact me. Phone: 740-289-2071 ext. 252
Email: whitt.124@osu.edu

Here are two articles to better explain the basics of 3D printing and the potential of 3D printing in the future.

pcmag.com 3D Printing: What You Need to Know
By Tony Hoffman
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2394720,00.asp

ZDNet Body parts and rocket engines: The Sci-Fi case for 3D printing
By Greg Nichols for Robotics
http://www.zdnet.com/article/body-parts-and-rocket-engines-the-sci-fi-case-for-3d-printing/
“GE believes that 3D printing “is the future of manufacturing” and that by 2020 well over 100,000 end-use parts in GE engines will be produced with 3D printing.” – Greg Nichols

3-D Printing

Photo Source:
http://www.techerator.com/2013/08/3d-printers-approaching-mass-production-as-key-patents-expire/