How Can 3D Printing Benefit the Consumer Goods Industry
2022 Nov 28th
It wasn’t so long ago that 3D printing seemed futuristic. Designing something on a computer and having a machine recreate it as a real object seemed far-fetched. But now, 3D printing has evolved from a novelty to a standard form of manufacturing. As a result, there are many tangible answers to the question, “How can 3D printing benefit the consumer goods industry?”
Customization and Creative Design
Flexibility is the name of the game with 3D printing. Designers can let their imaginations run wild, creating previously unheard-of shapes and forms for consumer products without having to worry about the limitations of traditional manufacturing methods.
Retooling becomes unnecessary to customize and personalize products. A designer just needs to create customize the product using a 3D CAD software and use a slicer to prepare the gcode file for the 3D printer to start printing away. From there, it can quickly produce individualized items according to the consumer’s preferences at no additional cost.
Consumer goods manufacturers and brands know that sustainability sells. With 3D printing, they can legitimately claim they use sustainable manufacturing processes that create far less waste than conventional CNC or other traditional manufacturing systems.
Manufacturers use metals, complex polymers, and even sand to create consumer goods, from keys to bikes to speaker systems. However, they can also choose biopolymers like PLA (polylactic acid) 3D filament made of plant starch to create many everyday consumer products. PLA is industrially compostable as well.
Moreover, manufacturers can create 3D products anywhere they have the equipment, even if they develop the designs thousands of miles away. It’s no longer necessary to source materials from overseas or ship finished products across the globe when companies can produce them locally and inexpensively with 3D printing technology.
Prototyping and design iterations are fast with 3D printing. All that’s necessary is an alteration to a computer file, and the 3D printer can produce the modified prototype immediately. This enables manufacturers to create and test prototypes more quickly than with previous methods like injection molding or CNC machining. As a result, the time to market for new products becomes shorter, often offering a competitive advantage.
Consumer product manufacturers are adopting 3D printing techniques at a rapid pace. These processes can make everything from shoes to mascara wands to helmet liners to washing machine parts quickly and in mass quantities. Manufacturers have realized the benefits of 3D printing for the consumer goods industry and are embracing the technology to create innovative products with designs that were previously thought impossible.