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3D Printers Help Businesses Operate During COVID-19

May 22, 2020


As we approach summer, the nation is engaging in discussions of reopening states to function as they were before COVID-19. Some states are moving towards a gradual reopening, while others prefer a faster opening. Regardless of location, businesses need to temporarily alter operations post-quarantine. Businesses that recognize the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic will continue past the Stay-At-Home orders can utilize 3D printers to make business operations more efficient to meet deadlines.


How the Stay-At-Home Order Impacted Businesses

Businesses operated during quarantine or are set to reopen as the nation reopens will need to follow the CDC guidelines for disinfecting and cleanliness in their operations. Some brick and mortar shops are not able to adapt to comply with COVID-19 safety regulations, or they do not have a website and must wait longer to resume operations. This means businesses including vendors and suppliers will either be unable to resume production or will be forced to shut down permanently because not all businesses can withstand long periods of inactivity. If companies can reopen, they will be operating with tighter budgets, and may even cut costs. Open businesses will also be operating with a smaller team and higher sanitation standards which will impact production and delivery timelines. Some of these businesses have an industrial 3D printer for their day to day operations, while others purchased a 3D printer to address the PPE shortage. As the nation moves towards reopening, these businesses face the decision of what to do with their industrial 3D printers. If a business chooses to produce 3D printed PPE after reopening, it may need to review requirements regarding personal protective equipment and 3D printing. Click here to learn about which filaments are potentially better suited for 3D printing PPE, and the CDC and FDA safety advice.


3D Printers Make Businesses More Efficient

Industrial 3D printers make businesses more efficient in a variety of ways. The top benefits include making prototyping more efficient, replacing hard to replace manufacturing parts, and producing 3D printed customized parts.

Therefore, 3D printers can address the production, cost, and time constraints facing businesses due to COVD-19. In general, 3D printed parts can be produced by a smaller team with little to no manual labor.

As a result, businesses can continue operations with a smaller team while implementing social distancing. 3D printing is cost-effective which is ideal for businesses facing budget constraints from the ongoing pandemic.  Due to strict sanitation standards and procedures, delivery times are now much longer across all industries. A successful business can not fall short on sanitation, meaning they must accept the longer delivery timelines. But it only takes a few hours to produce a 3D printed part, thus shortening the production timeline.



3D Printed Parts and Components

Since some vendors and suppliers will not be operating, businesses that rely on them for parts and components will face a variety of obstacles. First, the required model or part will no longer be available, and it will more than likely be difficult to replace through another supplier. If it is possible to order the part or component from a third party, businesses will still need to wait longer for the part to be delivered. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, traditionally made manufacturing parts and components took weeks to produce, and the timeline has only increased with the current safety regulations. Compare this to 3D printed parts, which can be ready in hours. Businesses with an industrial 3D printer can produce in-house at a fraction of the time and cost of traditionally made parts. This will give businesses more control and options while saving money.

For example, Caxton 3D used Raise3D printers to create molds for sand casting. Their process beforehand involved hand-carved wooden models which led to inaccuracies. This process also required multiple castings for positive and negative models. Once Caxton 3D used 3D printed molds, they reduced production cost and labor while they increased accuracy. Read more about how 3D printing benefited their process here.


3D Printing Improves R&D and Prototypes

Businesses across all industries require R&D and prototypes to operate. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a loss of revenue and operations for most businesses which in turn created budget constraints. Some businesses are responding to these constraints by cutting costs, in some cases to R&D and prototyping. However, 3D printing may be a more effective way of reducing R&D costs and time without sacrificing standards. 3D printed prototypes are excellent alternatives for testing the function and aesthetic of the design of new products.

One example of a business that incorporated 3D printing into its research and development is Yujia Metal Science. Yujia Metal Science produces furnishings including ornaments, furniture, wall partitions, and custom pieces. Before 3D printing, Yujia Metal Science had to use a third party to create small batches of custom prototypes. This led to long lead times and high costs. Once Yujia incorporated 3D printed prototypes their overall production time reduced by 91% and their prototyping costs decreased by 99%.


How to Choose the Best 3D Printer

Different industrial 3D printers have different capabilities. Choosing the right printer for any business will ultimately depend on the size, type, and requirements of a project. For example, some businesses may prefer to use a 3D printer for rapid prototyping while others may benefit more from incorporating 3D printing into their manufacturing. The size, type, and any specialties will affect the price of a 3D printer. While there are many expensive machines, it is important to know that there are affordable 3D printers that produce quality prints. Another crucial step towards deciding on an industrial 3D printer is to know and understand the different printing filaments. For example, PLA and ABS are two of the most popular filaments because they are durable and easy to print. However, TPU/TPE is another option if the project requires the material to be flexible. Understanding which filament goes hand in hand with knowing which 3D printer is best suited for a business.


Businesses that incorporate 3D printing into their operations will be in a stronger position to face the economic challenges of COVID-19. Industrial 3D printing can lower cost, reduce production time while enabling businesses to comply with the CDC safety regulations. For businesses looking to include 3D printing can contact Raise3D for more information and assistance.


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