Startups can be well-positioned to make use of 3D printing for things like rapid prototyping of parts and products, but using this tech effectively is not something you can do without keeping a few things in mind.
To steer you in the right direction, here are a trio of helpful tips that should allow your startup to leverage 3D printing to the fullest.
Consider all the cost of ownership
Before blindly rushing to snap up a 3D printer for your fledgling firm, be aware that the upfront cost of the equipment is just one of the expenses associated with ownership.
On top of this, you will also need to pay for the materials used in printing, as well as the upkeep, power, and storage requirements in the long term.
Because these costs can quickly spiral and you may not have the resources to encompass them, it may make more sense to use an online 3D printing service, at least at first. For example, 3D printing in New York City may be preferable as a local solution for outsourcing additive manufacturing.
Use the right software
Without powerful, compatible software you will not be able to make the best use of the 3D printing options that are at your disposal at the moment.
You can choose free CAD software to achieve this, and this might be a good starting point, particularly if you are completely new to this field. However, it makes sense to plan to switch to a premium platform further down the line so that you can compete with larger rivals.
Investing in the right training for your team, or hiring someone with existing experience with 3D modeling and printing, will also be worthwhile in this context.
Make the right choice in terms of material
While to the untrained eye all 3D printed products look like they are made out of plastic, in reality, there are actually some stark differences between the materials that can be used.
For example, the most common material on the block is ABS, with its popularity being based on a combination of its flexibility and relative durability. It is susceptible to warping after it has been heated during printing, which is one of its only downsides.
Meanwhile, if you are looking for a more sustainable type of material, the biodegradability of PLA will catch your eye. It is also imperfect in terms of its tendency to warp, and it also suffers when splashed with water, so again this needs to be taken on a case by case basis.
Find an untapped niche
The fact of the matter is that 3D printing is no longer an obscure technology, but is rather freely available and widely used by many start-ups.
Because of this, if you want your business to succeed you still need to put innovation and uniqueness at the top of the agenda when designing products. If you are just aiming to compete in established market segments, you will have a tougher time gaining traction.