Designing 3D Prints for Small Scale Manufacturing
In designing products for the market and manufacturing, there’s a point where using 3D printing and other rapid prototyping techniques for production is more cost efficient than traditional methods like casting and injection molding. This will ultimately depend on a few factors like the size of what you are making, its intended use, and the size of the intended production run. In designing and planning for production of pieces in my Wearable Planter line, I’ve determined that it is more cost efficient to produce them with 3D printing.
To minimize costs and simplify making processes, I've borrowed techniques used in injection moulding and traditional casting techniques to design 3D prints for manufacturing. To produce models in this way, using the assemblies feature in Solidworks and Fusion 360, I create sprues and rings to connect pieces into one larger part.
Most of the cost of 3D printing comes from labor, and to calculate the costs of 3D prints, many companies use a formula similar to Startup cost per model + volume of print + Machine Space = Price of model to calculate the pricing of 3D prints. This pricing model in a way overcharges for small models. This method combines many pieces into one to take advantage of the fixed labor cost per part. The benefit to this is to not only take advantage of lower pricing, but to make it easier to keep up with small parts and ensure that they are all printed in the same orientation.