The 3D printing industry continues to see truly amazing innovation and, unfortunately, equally amazing hype. Take metal 3D printing, for example. The ability to produce 3D printed parts made of metal is a great advancement for very specific applications, such as manufacturing low-volume and custom metal parts, including engine components, medical implants and jewelry and metal parts that can’t be produced using traditional manufacturing processes.
At the same time, hype about metal 3D printing is undeniable. We see it daily in trade publications, at industry events and in wildly inflated financial investments. I’ve even spoken with additive manufacturing lab managers who lament that their senior management specified the purchase of metal 3D printers without having a suitable application, at the sacrifice of technologies for which they had a tangible business case. Senior management thought, or were convinced, that they just had to have a metal-capable 3D printer to be relevant, without fully understanding what they were getting into, including:
- Far higher purchase, facility and operational costs
- Slower and more complex processes
- Inaccurate parts; manufacturers of metal 3D printers say that they achieve ‘net near accurate’ parts. ‘Net near accurate parts’ are not ‘accurate’ parts. They require the user to own a CNC machine to achieve accurate parts.
- Significantly greater expertise and planning are required when designing for metal 3D printers
- Understanding the technical benefits and limitations of the various metal processes
Unless your application absolutely requires metal 3D printing, why would you decide to incur those and other important limitations? In many cases, our Rize APD 3D printing platform replaces metal printers because it produces lighter weight parts with uniform (isotropic) strength in the X, Y and Z axes. Rize parts are also watertight, can be sterilized and you can 3D print detailed text and images onto your parts. Rize systems provide low purchase and operational costs and require no special facility requirements; you can operate a Rize 3D printer virtually anywhere. It’s completely safe, biocompatible and the material recyclable. And, you can even make your Rize 3D printed parts look like metal.
If you are producing custom and replacement tooling, fixtures, jigs, end-use parts and functional prototypes that do not require metal, it simply doesn’t make good business sense to use metal 3D printers. Instead, choose Rize. If you truly require metal parts, Rize technology in the office, on the production floor, in the field or in the lab, is an ideal complement to metal 3D printers.