Here at Reata Engineering, all of our engineers have a 3D printer on their desk一sometimes more than one! After purchasing our first 3D printer in 2011, it didn’t take long to see the potential for leveraging 3D printing technology to improve our contract manufacturing services.
Now, we can confidently say that implementing 3D printers at every workstation has been a true game-changer. Here are the key reasons we’ve invested so fully in this innovative technology.
1. 3D Printing Streamlines Manufacturing
3D printing streamlines manufacturing at various points in the process. And since time is money in contract manufacturing, these improvements add up to considerable savings for our customers. Let’s look at some examples.
When reviewing a CAD drawing at the beginning of a new project, it can be difficult for contract manufacturing teams to accurately envision a part’s size and features.
Our solution? We create a 3D printed model of the part, which gives us something tangible that we can pass around internally and show to the customer. With an actual part in our hands, we can easily troubleshoot issues, identify areas for improvement, and make decisions about the best way to construct an assembly. This enables us to achieve proof of concept quickly.
We can then use 3D printing technology to create additional test parts and assemblies (plus the required jigs and fixtures) on demand without having to spend significant time programming CNC machines. Test assemblies that once took days or even weeks to complete are now done in a matter of hours!
2. 3D Printing Promotes Creative Problem-Solving
3D printing technology has empowered us to create novel solutions to a number of nagging issues contract manufacturing shops tend to encounter. When we hit a wall with one of our processes, we immediately ask ourselves if we could overcome the problem with 3D printing. Often, the answer is yes.
For instance, we needed a way to plug holes easily when preparing parts for plating. We realized we could 3D print plugs in-house and added another printer exclusively for this purpose.
3D printing technology has even optimized some of our shipping processes. Recently, we learned that a feature on a part kept getting damaged during shipping. We printed a cap to protect the feature, gave it a test run, and discovered that it worked perfectly. We then left the printer running overnight to print 200 caps一problem solved!
We’ve found that easy access to 3D printers simply promotes a creative mindset. When our engineers have downtime, they are often inspired to create gadgets such as gauge holders and business card holders to help us keep the shop well organized.
Ready to work with a contract manufacturing partner that embraces innovation? Request a quote to get started on your project today!