3D Printing for Product Development

March 29th, 2017

3d printing - wrench3D printing may become a key player when it comes to future innovation and growth and is often eligible for the R&D tax credit. Designers often buy 3D printers in order to build a new product and bring their designs to life, effectively allowing product designers to become manufacturers. These special printers increase the flexibility of production, allowing customised, low-volume and limited series to be created.

This ability to print short runs rather than needing a minimum order quantity will be invaluable to many companies completing R&D. Using in-house 3D printing for R&D can also reduce costs and risks, for instance by keeping designs secure from outsourced companies.

Accelerate Product Development

3D printing can speed up the product development stage, from producing working prototypes to printing spare parts. With such accurate printing, it is almost immediately clear whether the design works, and if not, modifications can be made early on to prevent the production process getting too far ahead.

Using the printer to prototype often improves the final design, as outsourcing the prototype process often results in lags and wasted resources.

The Future of 3D Printing

3D printers themselves are becoming more and more useful as digital design software improves. They can now print on a range of metal, plastic and even food material!

3d printingIt has been estimated that moving to localised production will reduce supply chain costs by an estimated 50-90%, due to reduced transport and inventory costs. Third-party logistics companies that provide 3D printing facilities may gain a strong advantage over their competitors.

There are so many opportunities for 3D printing. Custom designs and components can be created, including spare parts for military vehicles, which are generally located far from a mechanic, in places like the desert. The medical industry is already using 3D printing for bioresorbable implants.

Even more fascinating is 4D printing. 4D printing is a new technology involving a 3D printed object that can unfold, self-assemble or be moved using elements like heat, moisture or sound. Possible applications include medical stents that change shape once implanted or shoes that become water-resistant when wet.

Does your company use 3D printing? You may be eligible for the R&D tax credit. Contact Swanson Reed’s Specialist R&D Tax Advisors for a free assessment.