3D printing transformed from emerging tech to industry standard

Bilby 3D explains how 3D printers help manufacture products in new and cost-effective ways for more efficiency in facilities.

3D Printing is no longer an emerging technology reserved for the cutting edge development labs. It is industry standard and rapidly being adopted by Australian companies, micro to multinational, to dramatically shorten the time to market.

People might be surprised just how much 3D printing has touched the goods and services they use every day. From the design and development of household appliances and motor vehicles, to being used to manufacture on-demand warranty parts. When looking deeper into the companies, people are likely to find 3D printing incorporated somewhere in a product life cycle.

The maintenance of warranty parts has long been a hidden cost to manufacturers. Electrolux started trials within the Asia Pacific region in 2017, 3D Printing on demand spare parts. Porsche Classic, a division of Porsche, is similarly looking to 3D printing production of rare parts in small quantities. With a parts catalogue exceeding 52,000 parts, the cost savings have the potential to be considerable.

Australians have long been known as early technology adopters, so it should come as no surprise that Australia is pushing the boundaries of what 3D printing can do for them across a broad range of industries.

Southern Rod and Custom unboxed a Raise 3D Pro 2 Plus 3D Printer in February. Since then, manager Shane Rowe, said the machine had become a part of their business they rely on, printing for at least 10-15 hours every day.

Southern Rod and Custom manufactures a number of one-off items. In the past, the company would computer numerical control (CNC) or hand make prototypes and hope they fit. This was expensive and time consuming, and “making by hand will never quite be exactly the same”, said Rowe. “But the 3D printer is supplying us professional repeatability.”

While Rowe believes the biggest benefit to his company has been the time saved by moving staff off hand manufacturing and letting the machine do the work. He also said that production times have been dramatically reduced allowing them to quickly test designs cheaply, significantly impacting the total cost of production.

“A part that previously took two-to-three weeks now takes a few hours. Where costs were $2,000 to $3000, they are now $2 to $3. This can save up to $30,000 in machining over the course of a project, which is a real win for us and the customers,” said Rowe.

While Southern Rod and Custom already had more than ten years’ computer-aided design experience and expertise, 3D printing was a new technology to the company and its staff. Rowe said he chose the Raise 3D from Bilby 3D because of its Australian support. “This was important, we needed to know we had someone local to call if things went wrong, or for help along the way.”

Bilby 3D has almost 10 years’ experience supplying, servicing and repairing 3D Printers. The company is also the Australian warranty and repair supplier for Raise 3D, among other brands.

Bilby 3D COO Lee Bilby said the necessity to provide high quality, professional support is paramount with an unfamiliar technology like 3D printing.

“That’s where we come in, drawing on years of experience we not only help when something goes wrong mechanically, but also with helpful advice and support along the way. We consult on how to utilise the technology, about emerging material options, workflow and best practice,” said Bilby.

For architectural and urban designers, Group GSA, 3D printing was also the natural next evolutionary step in their ever evolving adoption of advanced technology to provide their clients the highest quality services. The Sydney office initially adopted the technology to expand their marketing services. However, they found that the ability to produce models for clients to touch and hold allowed them to visualise designs in a whole new way.

Group GSA digital design manager Rohit Broka said the Raise 3D printer has provided the company with a tool to increase the quality of its presentations to clients.

“3D printing has become another process added to our pipeline,” said Broka. Group GSA can now produce sample models of design options for clients, which clients have reacted positively too.

Group GSA architect, Mauricio Fuentes, said clients find it a much easier medium to visualise the design concept Group GSA is trying to convey.

Brisbane based Kitchenware manufacturers, Dreamfarm, draw international acclaim for their designs. What people may not know is that they have utilised 3D printing as an integral part of the design and testing of products for over five years.

At the heart of innovative design, rapid product design iteration and production, people will increasingly find a 3D printer, according to Bilby 3D.

Today, there are a number of machines like the Raise 3D Pro series producing parts in complex materials from the bio-degradable and environmentally friendly PLA plastic, through to nylon-carbon fibre blends, stainless steel, and high temperature resistant materials that have even found a place within the engine bays of Australian racing cars.