Traditionally, the manufacture of parts or products is a long and expensive process. Methods like injection moulding require significant time and money to produce the required units. Thus, for the manufacture of these units to become cost-efficient, they need to be produced in large volumes. But what about companies that only need a small number of units? This is where 3D printing and short-run manufacturing come in.
What is short-run manufacturing?
In the simplest terms, short-run manufacturing is the production of a small or moderate number of units that allows for higher flexibility and shorter lead time than traditional methods.
Short-run manufacturing is not only used to create final products, but can also be used to create parts for another product.
Who can benefit from short-run manufacturing?
Short-run manufacturing is a cost- and time-effective option for companies looking to produce a small to moderate number of units.
What is bridge manufacturing?
Bridge manufacturing fills the gap between product development and concepts and large-scale manufacturing. For customers who don’t yet have the volumes, demand or finances for traditional manufacturing, bridging manufacturing is a solution for them to get to market faster, make quick product changes and produce smaller volumes.
How 3D printing enables short-run and bridge manufacturing
Also known as Additive Manufacturing (AM), 3D printing is making short-run manufacturing possible. Along with smaller batch production, it also allows for greater flexibility and agility, while still competing with more traditional methods in terms of price.
Variety over volumes
Another benefit of short-run manufacturing using Additive Manufacturing is the potential for more versatility and increased product diversity, since AM can produce varied objects without requiring a massive initial investment in tooling.
An example of this are custom-made hearing protectors produced for miners. These earplugs are moulded to the user’s ear canal, creating a comfortable and effective fit. Since every hearing protector is unique, they cannot be produced through traditional manufacturing methods. Thus, AM is used to essentially replicate the inner ear of each miner in the form of an effective hearing protector.
But what about cost?
A key factor in long or short-run manufacturing is the cost. With injection moulding, the tooling for the mould comes with a hefty price tag. In addition, any changes in the design can result in significant additional fees. AM, on the other hand, comes with a lower overhead cost (although the price per unit is typically higher). Each job is unique, so it’s best to consult with our experienced team and compare quotes before making any final decisions.
Do you have a short-run manufacturing project?
The team at Akhani 3D have many years of experience in the field and are well-positioned to guide and advise on short-run manufacturing using 3D printing. Contact us to find out more about how we can help you explore the possibilities.