3D printing is rapidly expanding and transforming. In fact, Deloitte's analysis shows a 12.5% growth year over year from 2017, with projected revenue at $3.1 billion by the end of 2020. This growth is driven by commercial 3D printers, which are capable of printing and finishing a wide variety of parts and products using virtually any material.
Not only are 3D printing materials getting better, but 3D printing is faster and capable of larger build volumes (and even larger prints of up to 27 cubic liters) than ever before. The wide range of materials and enhanced production rates of industrial 3D printers are leading many companies to consider joining the revolution and invest in a 3D printer.
However, understanding the return-on-investment (ROI) of purchasing and implementing such powerful technology is a must for any business. Considering the upfront cost of industrial 3D printers, along with replacement parts and print materials and training required to operate the 3D printer, determining the costs of additive manufacturing has many moving factors.
The real question is – what will your ROI on 3D printing be, and can 3D printing really save you money in manufacturing & bring added value to your process?
Real-World ROI with 3D Printing
Our 3D printing partner, Ultimaker, has worked to help businesses of all types transition to local manufacturing and digital distribution with its ground-breaking 3D printing technology. From helping global auto-makers like Volkwagen and Ford save on creating tools, jigs, and fixtures used on its assembly line, to helping MIT’s Launch program embolden up-and-coming entrepreneurs to develop real-world skills, Ultimaker and its success stories illustrate the varied and powerful ROI possible with 3D printing.
Try Our 3D Printing ROI Calculator:
In just three easy steps, you’ll know how much time save per model and your annual cost savings with 3D printing.
The Benefits of 3D Printing
Businesses using 3D printers rely on a mixed-manufacturing model, which integrates 3D printing with existing manufacturing equipment. This hybrid manufacturing strategy creates new opportunities by reducing the cost-per-unit over traditional manufacturing methods like injection molding.
1. Decentralizing Supply Chain
Manufacturing was responsible for 11.6 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018, yet overseas production is still popular. This means finished products must be bulk shipped through a chartering company that increases overhead costs. Additive manufacturing decentralizes the supply chain by allowing more localized manufacturing that reduces the need for shipping and warehousing of finished goods.
As the pandemic began to take a foothold in the United States, the reliance on overseas production of necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare and other frontline workers caused a severe disruption in the supply chain as countries everywhere scrambled to obtain more PPE. This disruption caused PPE shortages for many hospitals in the U.S. 3D printing leaders like Ultimaker and HP created an initiative to rapidly develop and provide 3D printed medical parts to hospitals facing immediate delivery shortages of critical medical parts.
2. Rapid Tooling, Prototyping, and Testing
Tooling is the single most cost-prohibitive step of traditional manufacturing, costing upwards of $80,000 or more. Today’s 3D printers can handle more materials than ever, and print more than one structure at a time without the need for retooling. This means fully functional products can be created, giving an in-house platform for prototyping and product testing that wasn’t available before without exposing valuable IP to third-party manufacturers and paying a hefty premium.
3. Personalization and Customization
AutoCAD (or similar 3D modeling software) gives companies the ability to create customized and personalized products like never before seen. When combined with a 3D scanner, like the Artec Leo, it’s even possible to scan real-world 3D objects in the field for printing at home base. These highly detailed images can recreate highly detailed 3D imagery of car parts, human or animal faces, famous landmarks, and other details to provide a unique branded experience.
4. Repair Broken Equipment
With a 3D printer, workers can create spare parts for office equipment, including the 3D printer itself. The ability for remote workers to replace broken equipment on the spot, without the need for purchasing and storing spare parts, makes companies more agile and able to respond to changing market conditions.
Using 3D printing, it’s possible to reduce waste and other overhead costs while enabling fast prototyping, tooling, and repairs. More custom designs are created, leading to more options for personalization and customization.
3D Print Services for 3D Printers
Like traditional 2D printing, 3D printers need print services to fully optimize resource usage, reduce print errors, and increase equipment longevity. ImageNet’s 3D printing services provide filament refill assistance, training on the best use of your machines, and equipment management and upkeep support. With the proper technology and our trained professional staff, you can easily integrate additive manufacturing into any size business.