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Most management experts agree that technological innovations have impacted the manufacturing processes and have brought down the duration of concept to market for manufactured goods like cars, mobile phones and other equipments, regardless of the product size. The duration of concept to market has always been a major limiting factor, especially for startups owing to their time and resource contraints. The more swift their product launch is, the more they gain! This no longer will be a limiting factor, thanks to one revolutionary channel that has come to the aid of the startups: 3D Printing Service.
To the uninitiated, ‘Agile’ is a software, developed, to make creating other software easy. The operative word is iteration or iterations. The notion, is to keep repeating the process, with minor modifications, till you get the program you started out to write. But, while you can do this for a software application, by resorting to the “undo” button, the same cannot be done with the manufacturing process of a tangible product. Here’s where the CAD technology comes in. With CAD in place, you need not resort to the conventional way of making a prototype, which itself will eat away your precious time and certainly a lot of capital given that it would be on a trial and error basis with no limit to the iterations. CAD gives you the option to fine tune the dimensions and combined with 3D printing service, you have an awesome tool to make a prototype in just hours. If it is a part of a machine or hardware, you need to take the part, so obtained by 3D printing, to the main machine and, if your design is perfect, you already have a finished product in hand and can go for mass manufacturing.
How Can 3D Printing Help Startups?
Let us presume that an entrepreneur wants to enter the manufacturing of the shells of printer cartridges, one of the consumables used in large numbers. In the traditional way, he would have had to invest hugely, whether from own resources or through heavy borrowings and spend months setting up a huge plant and spend enormously trying to make a perfect sample that fits into the printer and meets the approval of the printer manufacturer, if it is meant as OE(Original Equipment) supply.
But with 3D printing, this entire process can be accomplished in perhaps hours without even having to invest in any machinery. Make a CAD design, get one sample through 3D printing and try it out on the printer. If it fits in, bingo! You are already on your way! Even if there are minor dimensional or designing corrections, you could make them on the CAD file and do one more 3D printed prototype. And it would have cost you next to nothing.
This is how revolutionary the whole way of business could become in the future. It is unbelievable for many, but perhaps even as you read this, there could be many enterprising individuals who would have launched their startups using the Agile 3D Printing Service route as seen above. You can virtually replicate this for any number of such hardware items, parts, shells, functional pieces of equipments and what not!
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