🖨️ When to Invest in 3D Printing: Timing is Everything
Small to mid-size manufacturers are at a disadvantage when it comes to determining if 3D printing is a viable option for their business model. Take Masterclock, a manufacturer of precise timing systems equipment in St. Charles, Mo. With 25 employees, the company designs and assembles printed circuit boards and then mounts those in various types of cases for environments and customers ranging from schools to airplanes. “We have been serving both markets with very high-quality metal cases and wanted to explore the potential of using 3D printing to reduce costs for markets that don’t need truly mission-critical timing,” he says.
Billo led the analysis, which considered current market conditions, and found that the cost of equipment required to 3D print the casements that house the display clocks Masterclock manufactures outweighs the potential savings. It is not the right time for this investment. Clark says, however, that the analysis did show him that many forms of 3D printing have reached the point that there’s parity or better—on a per-part basis—with fabricated parts, which is a potentially major leap forward for a company the size of Masterclock.