About Rapid Manufacturing
Rapid manufacturing is a catch-all term describing 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.
There are a lot of opportunities to utilize 3D printing. Below are a few of the most common use cases, across the product lifecycle.
Prototyping. If you’re looking to iterate on a design quickly or need to test your prototype in its functional application before mass producing, production-grade 3D printing and CNC machining use computer design files. 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.
Short run production of complex parts. If you’re seeking a custom jig or fixture or want a custom insert for an injection-molding project, 3D printing these can save both time and money.
Mass production of 3D printing-optimized part geometries. With the arrival of 3D printing, many of the constraints that previously limited 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.
Legacy part manufacturing. If you have an old part that needs to be made, but only need a few of them, or you don’t want to stop your assembly line to manufacture just a handful of spares and manufacturing at minimum efficient scale means you’ll have a lot more parts in inventory than you need, use 3D printing or CNC machining to create a few parts.
The central key element of rapid manufacturing is Computer Aided Design (CAD).
Through use of three-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
See below: Tesla/Spacex founder Elon Musk shows some of the incredible applications of CAD design and 3D printing.
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.
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 by 80 – 90% as the result of prototyping with 3D printing.
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.
3Diligent was founded based upon a few ideals. The first is 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 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 the technology still isn’t push-button, meaning thorough vetting of suppliers and a track record of happy customers matters but isn’t automatic.
None of this is to say 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. For many, the combination of relationships and intelligent software we’ve developed allow us to provide you a superior user experience and more value than you could create any other way.
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 you already have some additive-manufacturing equipment. Virtually every company runs into limitations with 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 your investment deters many companies. As a result, businesses often find they want or need to use professional service providers and 3Diligent enables you to quickly locate the best provider or become a service provider through ProdEX.
There are two elements of confidentiality protecting every RFQ you submit on our platform.
Across Platform Protections
First, data security is at the top of our mind and we’ve taken great measures to ensure confidentiality within our secure platform. 3Diligent utilizes the same secure socket layer protocols used by Facebook and Amazon’s secure sites. Our lead technical advisor was the original architect of the Stamps.com platform, which prints legal American tender in the form of stamps.
Second, the Vendor Agreement every 3Diligent supplier signs before joining our platform sets forth provisions ensuring they will exercise industry-standard discretion with every piece of information they gather through our platform. This is not a formal Confidentiality Agreement, but rather a code of ethics.
Additional 3Diligent ProdEX Protections
For projects with competitively sensitive intellectual property, we encourage you to utilize our 3Diligent ProdEX service.
When submitting an RFQ to 3Diligent ProdEX, 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 app’s Customer Knowledge Center and the screen before you submit an RFQ. In brief, we instructed our lawyer to create provisions strict enough we would consistently be able to sign customer NDAs knowing ours was more strict.
The second element of 3Diligent ProdEX 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 few as a single partner on your project.
Don’t have the time to learn about every process and material we offer?
Just need great parts?
Submit an RFQ via our secure platform and let us do the thinking for you.
Our experts will present the right solutions for the application.
Or email us with a description of your project, and we'll be in touch.