Producing metal parts used to be a speciality that only some manufacturing plants could handle. Unless it was the core part of your work, you had the parts created outside, by one of them. But today, some companies have decided to take back that load. The reason why they can do so, is the advent of additive manufacturing. What is it and how is it benefiting them? Let us take a closer look.
Metal 3D Printing Machines
The 3D printing industry has gained a lot of strength over the last few years. Most of the time, people know about the ones using plastic to build objects. However, there are some that can produce metal parts. They work the very same way as the plastic ones, except that the material they use is different. Through a main source of energy (often a laser), metal additive manufacturing machines melt the material, which it then positioned, one layer on top of the other, to produce the object.
These machines are told what to do through a CAD software (computer aided design). That is how the plan of the part is inserted into the machine. No matter how complex the object is, the 3D printing machine will be able to reproduce it. It is these machines that have found their way into many companies, so that they can reproduce the parts they need by themselves. Although it is an important investment at the start, they can gain back their investment rapidly and keep their capital in-house.
Why is 3D Printing a Better Choice?
By now, you have understood that by creating their own parts, companies save money. Naturally, they keep the margin that their suppliers used to invoice them, but they also save more by being able to create the number of parts that they want/need, whenever they decide to do so. That is important, since most parts suppliers have minimum quantities and lead times that can sometimes be quite long. Therefore, a company will often create more parts then it needs, investing money that it could keep in house, just to be on the safe side. With the machine inside their location, they are now in full control of their schedule and inventory.
It also helps companies in terms of development. Before, when managers wanted to move on to newer models, they would have to have samples done. The process was costly and long. The supplier would create a mold for the first piece, which would have to be redone if there were changes to be made. Every time this happened, a new invoice would come for the extra mold. Not only would it add up in terms of money, but it also curb the momentum. In other words, the people in charge of making decisions would stop themselves on a sample, even if it was not perfect, so they wouldn’t go over budget. But now, with the manufacturing machines in-house, they can create as many samples as they need, in order to market the product that they really wanted, right from the start.