How to Recognize an Industrial FDM 3D PrinterJuly 10, 2023
3D Printing in the Aerospace IndustryJuly 29, 2023
Calculating the return on investment (ROI) for adding or moving to an industrial 3D printer has several components to consider. The basic idea is to show that the purchase will save both time and money over the current practices in your company or department. You will need to describe various cost savings, increased efficiency, and revenue generation. While the specific ROI will vary depending on the application and scope of the uses of 3D printing, here are some key factors to consider when justifying the adoption of 3D printing technology.
What if you have a 3D printer, but want to justify a new one? Usually this happens when you buy a “test” printer for under $10,000 and find that both the reliability and functionality is limiting. This “test” purchase has helped you learn the benefits of 3D printing, but now you want to move to a more reliable “Industrial” 3D printer. The justification is similar in both cases.
Cost Savings: We can help you work through the details of your exact situation. Generally, you want to show an evaluation of the projected cost savings achieved through 3D printing compared to traditional manufacturing methods. Consider factors such as elimination or reduction of tooling costs, decreased lead times, and reduced material waste. Calculate the cost per part using 3D printing versus traditional manufacturing, factoring in material costs, labor, and any additional expenses associated with each method.
Tooling Costs: One of the key advantages of 3D printing is the elimination or reduction of tooling costs. Traditional manufacturing methods often can be expensive and time-consuming to design and produce tooling. With 3D printing, parts can be directly printed from digital designs. The costs of 3D printing parts and tooling are lower compared to traditional manufacturing. To calculate the cost savings, compare the expenses associated with creating tooling using traditional manufacturing versus 3D printing. Don’t forget that Industrial 3D printing can create complex geometries in one try. This could be a significate savings in both time and material.
Decreased Lead Times: 3D printing offers faster lead times compared to traditional manufacturing methods. With 3D printing, parts can be produced on-demand and with minimal setup time. This rapid production capability can significantly reduce the time it takes to bring a product to market, fulfill customer orders, or implement a new tool in the manufacturing process. You can quantify the cost savings associated with reduced lead times by subtracting the total time to part of your current method to the time it would take to print and process printed parts. If you have a “test” printer, make sure to record the historical number of times the part had to be reprinted or the machine was down.
Lightweighting: 3D printing enables the creation of complex lattice structures and honeycomb designs that offer excellent strength-to-weight ratios. This “lightweighting” technique enhances the part or tooling performance over traditional methods. For example, imagine printing an end of arm tool using a Nylon carbon Fiber material over the weight of an aluminum part.
Reduced Material Waste: 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has the advantage of producing parts or components with minimal material waste. Unlike traditional subtractive manufacturing methods that involve cutting or shaping materials, 3D printing builds objects layer by layer, utilizing only the necessary amount of material. This can result in significant cost savings, especially when working with expensive or scarce materials. To calculate the cost savings, compare the material usage and waste generated by 3D printing versus traditional manufacturing methods, considering the cost per unit of material.
Cost per Part: To evaluate the cost savings achieved through 3D printing, it’s essential to calculate the cost per part for both 3D printing and traditional manufacturing methods. Consider factors such as machine cost (Found by dividing the cost to purchase the machine divided of the projected life time of the machine), material costs, labor costs (including machine operation and post-processing), energy consumption, and any additional expenses associated with each method. Compare the overall cost per part using 3D printing versus traditional manufacturing, considering the specific requirements and complexities of the part being produced.
Additional Expenses: In addition to material and labor costs, consider any other expenses associated with 3D printing or traditional manufacturing methods. These could include maintenance and servicing costs for 3D printers, software licensing fees, training costs, or any post-processing equipment needed for traditional manufacturing. By factoring in these additional expenses, you can have a more comprehensive understanding of the overall cost savings achieved through 3D printing.
Time-to-Market Reduction: Analyze the impact of accelerated product development and reduced time-to-market on the ROI. Note the potential revenue generated from faster tooling creation, faster product launches, and the ability to respond quickly to customer demands. Consider the competitive advantage gained by introducing products ahead of competitors.
Customization Opportunities: Assess the value of customization and personalization enabled by 3D printing. Determine if offering customized products or components can attract new customers or command a higher price point. Calculate the potential revenue increase resulting from catering to niche markets or individual customer preferences.
Prototyping and Design Validation: Calculate the cost savings associated with using 3D printing for rapid prototyping and design validation. Compare the expenses of traditional prototyping methods, including tooling costs, and the potential reduction in design flaws or errors that can lead to costly rework or product recalls.
Supply Chain Optimization: Consider the impact of localized production, on-demand manufacturing, and inventory reduction enabled by 3D printing. Calculate the savings resulting from decreased warehousing costs, inventory management expenses, and the ability to produce parts or components closer to the point of use. Factor in the potential reduction in shipping and logistics costs.
Intellectual Property Protection: Evaluate the value of using 3D printing technology to protect intellectual property. Calculate the potential cost savings from eliminating the need to share sensitive designs or outsource manufacturing to third parties. Consider the reduction in the risk of design theft, counterfeiting, or unauthorized production.
Secondary Revenue Streams: Small to medium size companies can explore the potential for generating additional revenue streams using 3D printing technology. Consider offering 3D printing services to external clients or partnering with other companies for joint ventures or licensing agreements. Calculate the revenue potential from these new business opportunities.
It’s important to note that while calculating ROI is essential, it’s also necessary to consider the long-term strategic benefits of 3D printing technology. These include fostering innovation in your company, enhancing product quality, and strengthening competitiveness in the market.
Fostering innovation: 3D printing enables rapid prototyping and design freedom. It helps your team think about customization and personalization. It supports on-demand manufacturing and on demand inventory management. It encourages collaborative sharing of ideas. Technology empowers individuals to think creatively.
Enhancing product quality: 3D printing enhances product quality through design flexibility and customization. It allows for:
- intricate and complex designs.
- personalized products including bar codes or other one-of-a-kind labeling.
- quick iterations to find the perfect form, fit and function.
This results in improved functionality and user satisfaction.
Strengthening competitiveness: Adopting 3D printing provides a competitive edge by increasing agility, responsiveness, and intellectual property protection. These are key results that can be linked to business growth and customer satisfaction.
Considering a move to industrial 3D printing? Our team can help you calculate the potential return on investment (ROI). Adopting 3D printing can also offer long-term strategic benefits. Reach out to us to understand how this transformative technology can be integrated into your business.