Can additive manufacturing solve your product development challenges in a new way? Product Design Melbourne
If you are developing physical products, then recent advances in additive manufacturing are worth watching.
Unlike software products where the distribution of the product occurs over the internet, hardware development requires distributing physical products.
The leap from prototyping in the development phases to a level of manufacture and the physical distribution of the product is a challenge in every case.
A critical element in the creation of a new hardware product is the validation of the manufacturing process and the creation of the quality systems that will ensure consistent production and the delivery of high quality products to the customers.
More and more, product developers are looking for solutions to make a quantity of products that they can take to the market in a restricted form for trials and getting feedback before committing to full scale production.
These new additive manufacturing systems are trying to address this challenge for when you might want a few hundred to a thousand parts (with limitations of course).
The inherent capabilities of the additive manufacturing approach are;
(a) lower upfront costs compared to injection moulding,
(b) agile part production,
(c) the ability to iterate rapidly on design changes, and
Hewlett Packard's Jet Fusion system has developed from their experience with large format 2D printing. It uses binders to hold nylon powder for a fusion process to produce the parts. HP claim to be able to produce parts 10 x more quicklythan other additive manufacturing processes and at half the cost .
The parts we have seen look pretty impressive but come in any colour as long as it is a shade of black. This is not so good for visible parts.
Image of equipment
HP's equipment does not come cheap at an investment of $500,000 AUD.
The outlook for Hardware Product developers
These technologies do not yet meet the broad need for making hundreds to a thousand parts at a quality and cost that to bridge the gap between development and full scale production.
Carbon 3D's materials are struggling to beat the $100 per kg cost threshold.
HP's Jet Fusion parts are more suited to non-visible applications.
One thing for sure is that new technologies will continue to arrive in this space.
One day additive manufacturing will enable a new approach to your product development.