3Diligent FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

About Rapid Manufacturing

What is Rapid Manufacturing?

Rapid Manufacturing is a catch-all term that speaks to the use of computer aided design (CAD) files to rapidly and accurately manufacture parts that would otherwise take lots of time and cost to set up for manufacturing on a traditional production line. 3D Printing and CNC machining are both types of rapid manufacturing. The graph below illustrates economies of scale as it relates to traditional and rapid manufacturing:

Learn Graph

In what situations is Rapid Manufacturing and the 3Diligent platform especially useful?

There are a lot of opportunities to utilize 3D printing. Below are a few of the most common use cases, across the product lifecycle:

  1. Prototyping. Looking to iterate on a design quickly? Wanting to test your prototype in its functional application before mass producing? Production grade 3D printing and CNC machining uses computer design files, so rather than invest time and money in injection molding tools, you can have a functional part produced in hours instead of months. Customers commonly see 80-90% of their R&D cycle time eliminated by rapid manufacturing.
  2. Short run production of complex parts. Seeking a custom jig or fixture? Wanting a custom insert for an injection molding project? 3D Printing these can save tons in time and money.
  3. Mass production of 3D printing-optimized part geometries. With the arrival of 3D Printing, many of the constraints that used to limit design in plastic or metal are no longer. These new designs may be lighter, stronger, better than the old version of the part – or an entirely new creation. But its unique geometry might only be possible via 3D printing.
  4. Legacy Part Manufacturing. Have an old part that needs to be made, but only need a few of them? You don’t want to stop your assembly line to manufacture just a handful of spares. But manufacturing at minimum efficient scale means you’ll have a lot more parts in inventory than you need. Don’t pick…just 3D Print or CNC machine a few parts.

What is a CAD or CAD design?

The central key element of rapid manufacturing is Computer Aided Design (CAD).

Through use of 3-Dimensional modeling software, CAD designs are created that can be read by advanced manufacturing tools to automate the creation of parts. This allows for extreme accuracy and repeatability when it comes to part production. It also allows for relatively fast and painless changes to part designs. Instead of having to spend weeks, months, or years in tooling time to refine part designs, it’s just a matter of a few clicks.

Read: Wikipedia on CAD

Have a look at Tesla/Spacex founder Elon Musk show some of the incredible applications of CAD design and 3D printing:

What are the benefits of 3D printing?

  1. From a functional standpoint, designs are possible that weren’t possible before. Complex shapes and functional moving parts within parts can be produced without assembly. Read: 3D Printing in Action: NASA 3D prints next generation rocket fuel injector
  2. From an R&D standpoint, massive time and related cost savings can be achieved through 3D Printing. Rather than go through the painstaking process of manually iterating on tools and designs, that iteration can be done digitally. Many companies have reported cutting their development cycles down 80-90% as the result of prototyping with 3D Printing. Read: Case Study: Whale and Stratasys
  3. From an invention and innovation standpoint, 3D printing serves as a catalyst for democratization. Basic prototyping can now be done in the living room on a consumer printer (before the design is sent through the 3Diligent platform for printing at higher resolution and quality). All of its applications are in the early stages of being discovered. Read: 3D Printing as the Third Industrial Revolution

About 3Diligent

You don't carry printers yourself...why is it better to work with you than someone with in-house equipment?

At 3Diligent, we're believers in a few things.  The first is that additive manufacturing technology, especially, is going through a sea change the likes of which makes spending big money on in-house equipment fraught with obsolescence risk.  The second is that this sea change is driving an explosion of technologies from many corners, and unless you focus full-time on the space, you aren't going to be able to keep tabs on it.  The third is that the technology still isn't push-button, meaning that thorough vetting of suppliers and a track record of happy customers matters.  

None of this is to say that no one can justify buying a printer or identifying a good brick and mortar provider...those companies are our partners and depending on your company or circumstances, the calculus can come out differently.  But for many others, the combination of relationships and intelligent software we've developed allow us to provide you a superior user experience and value than you could create any other way.   

How would I use 3Diligent if I’ve already bought a 3D Printer?

Most companies can make a great case for owning at least one 3D Printer, so there’s a pretty high likelihood if you’re reading this that you already have some additive manufacturing equipment. With that said, virtually every company runs into limitations of their in-house machinery, regardless of their size. No printer can do it all when it comes to material options, build size, accuracy, and speed. Even if there is budget for multiple printers, the obsolescence risks and human resource needs tied to that investment deter many companies. As a result, businesses often find they want or need to use professional service providers.

What measures does 3Diligent take with respect to confidentiality?

There are two elements of confidentiality that protect every RFQ submitted on our platform.  There are additional confidentiality protections available for 3Diligent Direct projects.  

Across Platform Protections

The first measure we've taken for confidentiality is a secure platform. 3Diligent utilizes the same secure socket layer protocols as Facebook and Amazon’s secure sites. Our lead technical advisor was the original architect of the Stamps.com platform, which has made a nice business printing American legal tender in the form of stamps.  Suffice it to say, data security was at the top of our mind when we built our platform.

Second, the Vendor Agreement that every 3Diligent supplier signs before joining our platform establishes that they will exercise industry standard discretion with every piece of information they gather through our platform.  Please note that this is not a formal Confidentiality Agreement, but rather a code of ethics.

Additional 3Diligent Direct Protections

For projects with competitively sensitive intellectual property, we encourage you to utilize our 3Diligent Direct service.  

When submitting an RFQ to 3Diligent Direct, you are able to check a box triggering the strict confidentiality provisions of our customer and vendor agreements.  These provisions are outlined in Section 2 of our Customer Agreement, which is posted within the Customer Knowledge Center and the screen before you submit an RFQ.  In brief, we told our lawyer that we needed provisions strict enough that we would consistently be able to sign customer NDAs knowing that ours was more strict.

The second element of 3Diligent Direct is naturally the hands-on nature of the service.  You may specify when you are submitting an RFQ the number and nature of supplier partners you'd like for us to work with on the project.  We'll take your lead, working with as little as a single partner on your project.