At 3D Systems, we eat our own dog food. What better use case for our Figure 4 Direct Digital Molding solution than Figure 4 itself. There are unique parts in the Figure 4 printer for which our current need is just a few hundred. Take this tube attachment for example.
We are able to fit 12 of these in a single build which takes 8 hours to print. That’s 40 minutes per part. The material cost turns out to be $9.31 per part. If we had opted for vacuum casting or injection molding the cost and time involved would have been a lot more.
Moreover, since this is a relatively new product there are greater chances for design changes. So if we do change the design of the tube attachment, all we need to do is print a bunch of these parts and send them to the assembly line within in a few hours. There is no need to wait for days or weeks to create new tooling. No need to hold inventory. With the Figure 4 Direct Digital Molding workflow Just In Time (JIT) manufacturing and inventory management comes for free.
Before I end this series I would like to make one last point. In the first part of this series I said, “You can’t design a part for which a mold cannot be built.” If you look closely at the part in this picture you will realize that its impossible to build a mold to manufacturing this part by vacuum casting or injection molding.
Essentially, this means the designer designed this part for additive manufacturing using the rules of additive manufacturing. This part cannot be manufactured any other way. Moreover, it’s not difficult to imagine that this part is a replacement for an assembly of many parts which needed many tools to be built to manufacture it. With one stroke the designer was able to eliminate tooling of multiple individual parts while, thereby saving time and cost many times over.
Armed with the knowledge that we now have the printing speed and the production materials to replace vacuum casting and augment injection molding, now may be a good time to ask yourself how the Figure 4 Direct Digital Molding solution can help you do things in a better, faster and cost effective way. If you are a designer, you may want to start looking at your designs from the viewpoint of additive manufacturing. Start researching on Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM). You will be surprised to see the kind of design freedom 3D printing allows you. If you are an OEM, you may want to start investigating which of your parts and assemblies are possible candidates for this workflow. Get in touch with us at 3D Systems and we can help you in your evaluation. If you are a vacuum casting or injection molding supplier, you may want to think about becoming more competitive by offering your customers faster turnaround times at a lesser cost, while increasing your bottom line. Win more business by just being different than your competition.
If this blog series has peaked your interest in the Figure 4 Direct Digital Molding solution, I recommend you learn more about Figure 4 Standalone and Figure 4 Production as well. This series has largely been about Figure 4 Modular. To put it simply 3D Systems has built a scalable workflow, where you do your R&D on the Figure 4 Standalone, scale up gradually on the Figure 4 Modular when you want 10,000 parts a month and then finally take it to industrial scale with the Figure 4 Production when you are looking to manufacture a million parts a year.
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