Why you shouldn’t be 3D-printing your prototypes

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Why you shouldn’t be 3D-printing your prototypes

Did you enjoy our previous blog on the cost-effective nature of prototyping? You might be wondering why we are today broaching the subject of 3D-printing prototypes and the reasons for it not always being a viable idea during the production process.

Do not get us wrong: there are many benefits that come with 3D-printing, such as having access to high-quality tech equipment or being able to create low-fidelity parts. Plus, 3D-printers are usually easy to operate and they are fast!

However, having said that, there are still many good reasons why you shouldn’t be 3D-printing your prototypes. Here are a couple of points to consider on the matter.

3D-printed prototypes might not perform as they should

3D-printed materials do not provide the same performance as those created through injection moulding or CNC (computer numerical control) machining. Therefore, they might not be able to portray as accurate a picture as needed to pick up any flaws or improvements needed for a certain prototype.

It might be better to consider other materials in some cases

For soft goods, for instance, 3D-printing would not make sense when it comes to prototyping, as printing wouldn’t be able to accurately capture the essence or feel of the product that is being designed.

The same could be said of goods made from wood or other materials that would better present certain design concepts.

Using physical materials could be less expensive

There are several durable materials to consider for creating prototypes which would prove to be cheaper and less costly than say 3D-printing a design that could bend out of shape or not fit the design it was intended for. A piece of wood could, for instance, easily do the trick if it pertains to a certain design.

3D-printed prototypes aren’t always sturdy

Often, 3D-printed examples will split between layers, which could make the planned design seem questionable and even make a client decide to not continue with a project. This is why it would be more ideal to rather stick to solid materials that could accurately portray what an end-result would look like.

The printed layers could distract from the final design

As 3D-printers print in layers, these lines are often visible in printed prototypes. This means that the designs will not 100% look the way they should – especially if the lines are very pronounced. And the last thing any designer wants is a design that doesn’t look “clean” or “neat”.

To 3D-print or to not 3D-print

As you can see from our above points, 3D-printing, as much as it is convenient and easy to operate, isn’t always ideal when it comes to the prototyping. Always carefully consider what your intent for a certain design is, and if the best possible way to present it would be 3D-printing, or using tangible materials that would better display the direction in which you are heading.

Do you need rapid prototyping in Melbourne? MOSS&SCHMIDT will make it work. For high- quality rapid prototyping, 3D-printing, and product development, get in touch with us.