Additive Manufacturing Demystified

Providing simple answers to some of the most asked questions about 3D printing

FirstPart provides professional 3D printing services and additive manufacturing technology to a wide range of customers. In our day to day interaction with potential clients, businesses and customers, we notice that there are many misconceptions about 3D printing. These questions often include how much a 3D printing service cost, the strength of 3D printed parts and even whether or not 3D parts are fake or original. In this blog, we will be answering all the most popular questions to help demystify additive manufacturing and give you insights on why you should consider 3D printing with FirstPart on your next project. 

1.    Why is 3D printing so expensive? 
From our interaction with most first time customers, we notice that there is a general misconception about how expensive or how affordable 3D printing should me. Some customers believe that 3D printing is more expensive than conventional manufacturing methods such as plastic injection molding or die casting. 

In reality, the price for any 3D printing service depends on a number of factors. First, the volume of parts to be manufactured and the amount of material to be used in printing these parts. Factors such as the choice of material, the finish and the printing technology to be employed also affect the price. Generally, 3D printing is a more cost-effective approach to conventional manufacturing in that there is no need for tooling and die manufacturing. This process can save you money as your turnaround time and product development cycle becomes shorter. Finally, with 3D printing, simple changes and modifications can be made to your design in your modelling software without having to spend money on new tooling. 

2.    Can 3D printing make original parts?
Yes, absolutely. 
3D printing can produce end use parts from a wide array of materials including metals. Because 3D is sometimes used to rapid prototype end parts, there is the impression that all additive manufacturing can do is to produce look-alike or duplicate copies only. In reality, 3D printing can be used as the sole method of production for low-volume manufacturing. The quality of the part is just as durable and functional as it’d be if such part is made from CNC machining or Injection molding. 

Additive manufacturing can therefore be used in producing original parts that will serve as intended. Some examples of where 3D parts have proven crucial and original to innovation include medical parts, prosthetics and devices. 

3.    Is 3D printing limited?
At FirstPart, we noticed that there are also misconceptions about the capabilities of 3D printing. As earlier noted, many first time customers believe 3D printing is simply used to design fake or look-alike copies of an original object. Others have troubles believing 3D printing can be used for objects other than phone cases, figurines or toys. 

Today, additive manufacturing serves a lot of professional areas including prototype production, idea testing, design feasibility evaluation and even the production of ready-to-use end parts. Depending on the material loaded onto the printer, 3D printing technology can be used to manufacture just about anything without compromising quality and functionality. 3D printers can print a wide array of plastic, resins and even metal materials. There are also unlimited finish options for 3D printed parts which mean that you can choose from painting to texturing, coating and much more. 
Additive manufacturing is not limited to end-use parts. Asides the popular medical and household sectors, 3D printing is widely deployed in making lightweight automotive parts that offer the same functionality and strength and more affordable prices. Companies in the footwear sectors are implementing additive technology to manufacture some components of their shoes while architects and product engineers can make improved mock-ups to evaluate and visualize their projects. Simple spare parts for airplanes and cars are also readily 3D printed using the technology. 

Now that we have demystified 3D printing and additive manufacturing together, we encourage you to try out our best 3d printing service solutions and get started with your first 3D project. Our engineers are available to help with a free quote and design evaluation. Depending on the nature of your project, you will typically receive your quote in a number of hours as well as several suggestions on how to optimize your end part. FirstPart also provides stringent quality control evaluations and super-efficient logistics that guarantees that you receive your 3D printed objects, produced to specifications as desired, quick and intact.