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3D Printing..from prototype to production

Posted by: Mark Jones 21 Oct 15 - 12:55PM  | Engineering


British engineers already have an outstanding heritage in bringing ingenious concepts to market. This time however, it’s the US system of stereolithography (3D printing) which is revolutionising product development processes. The first versions of this ground-breaking technology were developed as early as 1984, but it has only become affordable and accessible thanks to recent advances, giving SMEs the ability to quickly and simply turn a concept into a tangible model or working prototype.

3D printing is now so prevalent that the Government have made 3D printing design partof the national curriculum for design technology lessons. As a result, even organisations with limited means can bring a product to market just as quickly as multinational corporations can.

Designers no longer have to rely on costly, time consuming machining or modelling.Automotive recruitment Instead, a blueprint for the product can be generated digitally, realised through the 3D printer, assessed in a real world form and amended then reprinted as required in a fraction of the time needed by traditional prototyping techniques (modelling, machining, or moulding). This reduces the time needed to go from concept to marketable product and also ultimately cuts the cost of development.

Furthermore, this technique allows for the realisation of otherwise impossible-to-manufacture designs. The process involves a printer laying down successive layers of a powdered material, such as a plastic or even metal, following blueprints created by computer aided design.

According to one report prototyping is currently 3D printing’s biggest application, but over the past 10 years its use in the actual production of parts has grown rapidly to 28% of the total global product and service revenues. That growth is set to continue as well, with an economic think tank describing 3D printing as one of the biggest potential growth areas in industry over the next decade thanks to the nearly unlimited design opportunities it offers.

JLDS design services“3D printed products are appearing everywhere, from toys and jewellery to automotive, aerospace and biomedical applications,” says Nick Jones, Associate Director of Jonathan Lee Design Services. “The ubiquity with which the technology has taken hold is highlighted by NASA’s experiments to print everything from food, to replacement spacecraft parts which eliminates hugely expensive supply shipments every time something breaks in orbit. Companies need to ensure that they continue to evolve in terms of both assets and personnel to take advantage of the clear benefits that rapid changes in technology like 3D printing can bring.”

For more information on the services offered by Jonathan Lee Design Services, please contact or download our latest online brochure HERE


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