3D printing has been a hot topic lately. It is being used in many industries and has many different applications – from manufacturing to fashion; however, the jury is still out on whether it will change traditional manufacturing with regard to cost savings, varying material usage and large scale-printing. We sat down with one member of our 3D innovation team, Asher Clinger, to get his thoughts on this issue and how Micro Motion fits into this space. In addition to Asher, the 3D innovation team consists of a group of people across many departments including Ryan Zydel, Charles DePenning, Marty Schlosser and Mark Bell.
Micro Motion has had a 3D printer for several years and has used it to create prototypes out of cyanoacrylate material. The 5700 transmitter casing is an example of a prototype Micro Motion created using the 3D printer. Using it not only saved days of work in the factory, but it also was cost-efficient. It cut down on materials and rework, and allowed the team to evaluate different casing options before the final product was produced.
While there are pros and cons to both traditional manufacturing and 3D printing, one serious advantage to 3D printing is safety. With a 3D printer, the process is contained to one machine and one room – depending on how many printers you have. At this point in time, however, the potential cost savings from using a 3D printer can be determined by the type and size of the project, and in some cases, it is still more cost effective to use traditional manufacturing methods to produce a prototype. 3D printing is more likely to be a better, more cost-effective option if the project is lower volume.
“Don’t get me wrong,” says Asher, “manufacturing is still a viable option for creating prototypes and in many cases can be more cost-efficient and timely – you just have to weigh your options to determine what proves to be most valuable.”
Micro Motion currently only uses 3D printing to create prototypes. But with technology advancing as fast as it is, you never know what we could start printing! There are so many opportunities with 3D printing that, within the next ten years, who knows what Micro Motion and the rest of the industrial world will start churning out – from advanced prototyping tools to full scale production products.
Does your company have a 3D printer? If so, what do you use it for? Tell us in the comment section below!