3D Printing

3D printing applications are continuing to develop as the technology expands. Designers and engineers find it very useful in the creating of design prototypes. Not only does 3D printing technology offer many useful design features, but prototypes can consist of many different kinds of model materials.

Currently, fabrication materials used to produce prototypes range from resins, polymers and plasters, many new ones may be on the horizon as well. Depending on the scope of the prototype to be produced will determine which 3D printing fabrication materials designers prefer. Key factors that can influence the choice of materials used in 3D printing prototypes are model durability, expected lifespan, and the complexity of design.

3D Printing and Enhanced Product Development

Many companies rely on the use of prototypes and models produced by 3D printing for the purpose of conducting product, and focus group testing. The test groups are looking for design preferences from consumers or end-users. The feedback received is incorporated into the design during this stage of the process.

The data gained is used to make changes to the product as it is prepared for manufacture. 3D printing is a crucial tool for quickly making cost efficient design changes, and the ability to rapidly produce a new prototype. 3D printing applications for marketing and design function is able to cut the time necessary for producing a workable prototype. Time and cost savings using 3D printers can be as much as two-thirds.

Prototypes produced, tested and redesigned utilizing 3D printing is highly efficient because designs can be easily changed until the engineering is ideal. Instead of gaining performance data as a result of field failure, data can be easily gained in the design process. Inexpensive materials such as resins and polymers used in 3D printing offer the most durable prototype models, and also reduce cost. Research and development in 3D printing technology continually advances with new materials being developed all the time. This technology plays an important role in the efficient production of prototypes for research and product development.

3D Printing CAD Software Advantages

The advantage of using (CAD) software in 3D printing technology stands in stark relation to traditional prototype technology. Traditional prototyping technology employed plastic formers to create models. These required large and bulky platforms and a major financial investment for design, or engineering firms. 3D printing systems that are not only more compact, but are cost efficient to purchase and operate also. The technology has reduced the set up time, and operation requirements are easier too. This has made the technology a popular choice for many models and toy manufacturers.

3D printing stands on the forefront of many new product markets, fabrication materials, and hardware applications, both for the business and consumer markets. Advancing technologies are steadily developing and many advantages in advanced hardware, software and fabrication materials used in available rapid prototype systems have resulted.

3D printing advancements allow for the faster and more cost efficient prototype, and fabrication model. 3D printing advantages also include the elimination of expensive tooling, manpower, and the costs associated with the creation of design prototypes. All of these 3D printing advantages help firms to create the models necessary in order to bring their products to market.

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Inventor Events

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Thursday, June 24, 2010 from 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm
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Finding a Manufacturer vs. Licensing the Design

Finding a Manufacturer vs. Licensing the Design

To stock more product with a big distributor, a home-based jewelry designer wants to try contract manufacturing. Experts offer advice

By Karen E. Klein

I’m a home-based jewelry designer who submitted a ring design to HSN (HSNI). They were pleased with the design and want more quantity. How do I find—and work with—a manufacturer? —L.A., Mesquite, Tex.

It all depends on what quantity your distributor is requesting, say manufacturing experts. If you’ve been asked to provide 50 or 100 rings, consider becoming partners with one or two artisans who do handmade custom designs. Presumably you worked with a jeweler who made the prototype design you initially submitted. That person may be interested in working with you again if the numbers requested are manageable.

If, however, you’ve been asked to stock a large number—say 10,000 pieces—you’ll need to contract with a jewelry manufacturer, says Drew Casani, director of TMAC, the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center. That may prove to be challenging, both to find a company that will work with a small designer and to come up with funding for the manufacturing, he says.

"The probability that a Zales or a Jostens will hook up with an individual home-based designer is small, and they won’t make large quantities unless they get some money up front," Casani says. "The problem is that you won’t be paid until the rings sell."

a range of potential solutions

Here are some alternatives you might pursue:

• License the design to a manufacturer that will take on the risk and up front cost of making the rings. The fact that you have a large, multichannel retailer willing to act as your distributor is an important selling point. TMAC or your local Small Business Development Center can help you find manufacturers that produce jewelry or other kinds of metal work and are interested in licensing original designs, Casani says. They can also help you determine what a typical licensing fee would be and make sure that you have a nondisclosure agreement for potential licensors to sign.

• Find a small or midsized manufacturer that has the capacity to handle your job and is willing to take a chance on a new product design. You might explore websites such as the International Innovation Network, which puts innovators together with manufacturers, investors, and distributors. Just make sure that you conduct due diligence on anyone you contact through such a site—or in any other manner. "Make sure that you get a manufacturer with an ISO (International Standards Organization) certification, which establishes their credibility," Casani says.

• Identify potential partners through traditional manufacturing databases, narrowing down your search based on the materials (silver, gold, platinum, and so forth) that you are using. Dan Luria of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center says: "We’ve found, though imperfect, to be vastly superior to any other single database for finding manufacturers." He turned up 60 companies listed in that database under the "rings: jewelry" category and says about 20 of them appear to make rings, as opposed to designing or distributing them.

Getting some help from advisers who have worked with small and home-based entrepreneurs will make your process much smoother. Casani of TMAC says that his agency has a program, "Supplier Scouting," that may be perfect for you. Good luck.

Karen E. Klein is a Los Angeles-based writer who covers entrepreneurship and small-business issues.

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Rapid Prototyping Machines

Rapid Prototyping Machines

American media have recently announced, that despite all argues around this question, some American company is going to release a great innovation – three-dimensional printer that can be used at home or in offices in order to product 3D model, like parts and details of any real object or mechanism. Incredible thing here is that this prototyping machine is going to cost less than 5000 dollars, the price affordable for most people, who need such apparatus.

The manufacturers from all corners of the globe were impatient to see this innovation release, but they were truly disappointed when despite some money taken as deposit for such 3D machine, the machine itself has not been supplied yet. The actual truth is that those manufacturers, who were going to supply affordable prototyping machines or at least promised to, may not live long in a severe market environment and taking into account constant competition between leading companies. Rapid prototyping is not an exception in this case.

Probably those initials difficulties can be solved soon, but the bad thing here is that they can harm those executives who have given away their money for something that does not exist and may not be produced in the nearest future.

However, not all firms and enterprises waist their breath, some of them proved to be reliable ones. One of such companies is the American company Objet Geometries LTD. This company proved to supply high-precision prototyping machines in time, the quality of these machines is undeniable as well.

3D printers offered by Objet geometries present accurate performance, the models coming out of company’s machines are of high quality and can hardly be compared to any other 3D printer. The company constantly improves its technology, producing the best three-dimensional machines to their customers and offering the best prices.

Many enterprises producing rapid prototyping machines offer their products in lower prices. In practice, these cheap prototyping machines are not as good as they are told to be. The surfaces of such items are rougher and the quality of part coming from such machines is often poor, while details are fragile and breakable. As it is known, the main property of prototyping models is their solidity, that is why fragility is a great disadvantage of cheap rapid prototyping 3D machines.

The reasons, mentioned above, urge great corporations all over the world, including countries of the third world, to buy more expensive and reliable rapid prototyping machines, produced by known companies, which are ready to bear responsibility for sold item, to support and to service it beginning from installation and in the process of machine exploitation. Such machines produced by eminent companies provide the most accurate, reliable and solid copies of real objects.

Are you aware that rapid prototype can solve lots of tech problems about your business? Read more about what rapid prototype is and how rapid prototype services can help to meet your technical needs.

Today we live in the world where knowledge quickly enhances the quality of our life.


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