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3D Printing Offers Advanced Manufacturing Solutions

Consumers today increasingly want custom products, and 3d printing powders has revolutionised how this can be accomplished.

Engineers can quickly produce and test prototypes using modern manufacturing methods in just one day, considerably quicker than the weeks or months required by traditional approaches.

Rapid Prototyping

Physical prototypes enable engineers to conduct more thorough testing than digital models alone can allow, collecting authentic user reactions and feedback while decreasing the risks of redesigns later.

SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) is a 3d printing industry technique that employs powerful lasers to fuse powdered thermoplastics layer by layer, producing high-quality plastic and metal prototypes that can withstand heat, chemicals and mechanical stress. This process produces durable prototype parts suitable for heat treatment or environmental stresses such as UV radiation.

Rapid prototyping can also be used for creating prototype electronics, particularly printed circuit boards (PCB). TWI Industrial Members can take advantage of our expertise across every aspect of metal additive manufacturing and our specialists can assist with improving performance, cost and lead times through rapid design changes, leading to faster time to market with prototypes that look and work like final products – significantly decreasing risk and providing assurance of robust functionality before moving to production.

Manufacturing Aids

Manufacturers rely on jigs, fixtures and grips to mould, position or hold parts during production. These tools were traditionally made out of metal using cutting, milling and casting processes; but with 3D printing now becoming mainstream manufacturers can produce these tooling aids on demand and at an cost-efficient pace.

Volunteers participating in the COVID-19 pandemic were able to use their personal 3D printers as manufacturing aids and personal protective equipment (PPE). This included frames for face shields as well as other accessories.

Manufacturing aids can be printed using various materials, from polyurethane to carbon fibre-reinforced ABS. Stereolithography (SLA) and fused deposition modeling (FDM) are the two primary 3D printer types available today; SLA utilizes one or more lasers to ‘draw’ in layers onto vats of resin resin for curing while FDM employs heated filament wrapped around spools fed through nozzles at high speed – both processes produce excellent results.

Hard Tooling

Hard tooling employs stronger materials like steel alloys or aluminum and is ideal for larger production runs. These types of molds can endure the long production cycles required by injection molding while meeting tight tolerance requirements, stringent testing standards, and stringent functional specifications.

Soft tooling or hard tooling should be chosen based on parts manufacturers’ schedules and budgets. When planning short production runs, soft tooling might be more suitable as it requires less cost and effort for implementation.

Parts manufacturers should make an effort to select the appropriate tooling for their product in order to save both time and money by creating inferior finished pieces. To do so, they can consult an expert manufacturing partner and discuss which production process would best meet their design. Alternatively, 3d printing aluminum technologies provide them with ample opportunities to craft prototypes that match up perfectly with their needs.


3D printing offers companies an alternative to CNC machining that can speed up prototyping and manufacturing stages more rapidly, enabling companies to test aesthetics, dimensions, iterate design changes and shorten development timelines more effectively. Furthermore, functional prototypes produced using production-ready materials allow businesses to evaluate designs in use as well as evaluate performance more thoroughly.

BMW used a metal-reinforced 3D printer to develop a prototype optimisation tool for their soft roof bracket that weighs 44% less than its original design, helping reduce material usage while increasing aerodynamics for greater fuel savings.

Companies across industries are turning to industrial powder 3d printing as a tool to fast-track product design processes and bring their creation from concept to completion faster. If this sounds appealing to you, get in touch with Saratech’s team of experts and request an assessment for finding the best additive technologies solution for your organization.

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