The act of designing something and then watching it come to life as a 3D object before your eyes is something more and more designers are experiencing first hand with 3D printing.
3D printers are no longer solely available to large business structures. Instead, the average household has access due to ease and affordability in the evolution of 3D printing progresses.
Incorporating 3D printing into your design flow can help your business expand. If you’re teetering on the edge of taking the printing plunge, here are a few reasons why it might be the right way to go for you.
3D Printing Is Easier Than Ever
Ideas and files are becoming easier to obtain as 3D printing becomes more mainstream. Websites like thingiverse offer thousands of free STL files and 3D printer models. You can now create anything from showerheads to bottle openers with a moderately priced 3D Printer.
If you can dream something up, you can make it. You might surprise yourself when you see what others have designed with a 3D printer. Making objects on your own not only saves money, but it also saves trips to the store. Sure, you can pick up a soap dish for a few dollars anywhere, but it’s so much more satisfying to make it on your own and customize it any way you like.
Buying these printers has also gotten easier. If you’re not sure what you need, refer to services that help you choose the right model based on your printing needs.
Make what you want, from customized drink coasters to a business card holder with your name on it. Not seeing what you want at the store, create it with a 3D printer. Tweak products to make them better suit your needs.
Plus, if your printer has a malfunction, you can create most part files yourself with the printer, rather than buying it.
Making Your 3D Printer Work for You
Freelance Designing with a 3D printer is becoming a more popular and lucrative choice for many designers. You can now process 3D print jobs for anyone who places an order online. Sites like Upwork connect freelancers to businesses seeking the help. 3dhubs instantly connects 3D printing services on a local level. As the demand for 3D print jobs increases, the demand for commissioned pieces from those with access to a 3D printer will as well.
Not only can you gain extra funds for producing designs for others, but you can also create and sell your own designs for a profit. Search ‘3D Printing’ on craftier sites, and you can find just about anything for sale, from custom guitar picks to earrings.
3D printing is no longer just a hobby for the super-rich or geeky, but a way to earn money and improve the way you design.
The use of 3D printing has become encouraged as part of the design workflow, saving time and money while helping to improve customer satisfaction. By making the final product something tangible, the client can hold and view the product, making the creative process more fluid. Physical mockups also show more intricate details otherwise not visible to clients.
The distance between designers and clients is also shrinking, even if they never meet face to face or even speak. 3D printing allows designers to bypass retailers altogether and get products directly into clients’ hands, furthering creative freedom and product ownership.
3D Printers Speed up the Design Process
Even large companies like Fender are bringing 3D printing to speed up the design process. Now, instead of waiting weeks, they can prototype a part within hours.
Crafting a 3D model by hand can be a painstaking process in both time and patience. This not only slows down the design process but also the overall production.
Invent for Yourself and Others
Getting a prototype printed by a manufacturing company can be both costly and timely. So, whether you invent something or you sell your services to help others get their design in motion, it’s a win-win outcome for both parties.
Tweaking prototypes is also a lot easier with 3D printing. Once finished, the products can be sent off to a professional grade manufacturer. Working out all of the kinks before productions can save thousands of dollars and time. Even if the product isn’t going into mass production, going back and forth with a freelancer vs. a manufacturer can ensure you get the exact product you want with half of the hassle.
What to Buy
Although the price of 3D printers has come down over the years, quality results still require a higher-end printer. All3dp.com suggests looking at both ends of the spectrum when buying 3D printers for home use. If you want to produce high-quality items you may want to invest in a more expensive 3D printer. More affordable printer options are available, but the finished results can often turn out inconsistent or with a lower quality. An initial larger investment may end up paying for itself in the end.
There is a lot to consider when purchasing a 3D printer. Price, type of printer and printing material all play a large role in your final decision. Buying into this technology is a solid investment in the future of design and invention. Whether you want to use it as a freelance opportunity or a fun hobby to expand your Lego collection, 3D printing has a promising future.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.