As demand for 3D printers continues to grow across Ireland, a Galway based supplier of 3D printing solutions is guiding Irish companies through the process of selecting the most suitable printers for their particular businesses.
3D Technology Ltd., based at Galway Technology Centre, is leading the way in the supply of international 3D printer brands including 3D Systems, Markforged, Robox and Shining 3D. As 3D printing has become a critical part of manufacturing globally, 3D Technology founder James Wall has experienced first-hand the advancements made in the last number of years.
“Originally 3D printing was very much focused on product prototyping, however the technology is now leveraged at every stage of the product creation journey, including initial concept design all the way through to final product manufacturing. The advantages of 3D printing now include greater selection of materials, faster turnaround times and new approaches to automation.”
As with any new technology, potential customers of 3D printers have been closely weighing up their requirements and educating themselves about 3D printing possibilities. One of the primary priorities for companies is establishing the expected benefits to their business, whether that’s R&D cost reduction, increased revenues of better manufacturing flexibility. According to Wall, identifying the right 3D printer for a particular business is key to the service his company offers.
“The overall advantages of 3D printing are now recognised across a whole range of sectors globally, but our focus in on ensuring that our customers choose the right 3D printer for their needs. Our range or printers come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s definitely not a case of one size fitting all. We work closely with our customers to establish what 3D printing solution we recommend for them, offering the right benefits at the right cost.”
With the variety of 3D printing technologies available, each offers its own strengths and weaknesses that make them great for some applications and unsuitable for others. Each offers unique materials – from elastomers to plastics to metals and more – and uses vastly different methods to create parts. Some make tough, production grade parts that stand up to years of demanding service, while others make parts intended for short-term use. Some make large batches of parts at one time, while others are optimized to get one or a few parts printed as quickly as possible.
“From a technical point of view, we discuss with our customers the exact specifications of the products to be manufactured, allowing us to recommend the most suitable printer for that application. The criteria for choosing a 3D printer include strength requirements, volume requirements and of course the size of the products to be printed”, adds Wall.
In order to fully avail of the advantages of 3D printing, different businesses can take different approaches. In terms of 3D printers, many companies are purchasing a 3D printer that addresses their particular requirements, while others have less 3D printing requirements and elect to outsource the service. Others, meanwhile, take a hybrid approach by purchasing printers while also utilising On Demand outsourcing, something 3D Technology is able to provide.
“No other Irish company offers the complete suite of manufacturing services the way we do. In addition to supplying 3D printers, we also offer manufacturing services for everything from 3D printed prototypes to final production. This allows our customers utilise our On Demand 3D printing services to familiarise themselves with the technology prior to making that initial 3D printer investment.”