How to Get Started With Your 3D Printing Journey

Learn how to make 3D printing a part of your manufacturing process. See the main use cases and applications.
The global 3D printing market is growing steeply, with an annual CAGR of 20%+, and is expected to reach approximately USD 31 billion in 2023 (vs. approx. USD 9 billion in Europe). Experts indicate that AM will catch up to conventional manufacturing technologies such as CNC and sheet metal production in the coming years. The reasons for this growth are the many benefits that additive manufacturing provides. Source: Marketsandmarkets

3D Printing’s Benefits Along the Value Chain

Design and Engineering Fewer piece parts: Design freedom enables the integration of several conventionally produced Higher customization: Efficient small-batch production makes mass-customized applications possible Lighter parts: Layer-wise production enables the manufacturing of bionic lightweight parts Quicker time to market: Tool-less production increases the speed of prototyping design cycles Manufacturing Faster manufacturing process: Short setup time in production, fewer production steps, more flexibility with better load balance, and less part-specific equipment increase the speed of production Higher material productivity: The process of layer-wise production reduces the waste of material for complex geometries compared Supply Chain More local production: Lack of part-specific tooling and fewer manual production steps enable digital inventories with distributed on-demand production networks Increased supply chain resilience: Fewer piece parts and manufacturing steps decrease the need for complex and vulnerable supply chains Additional customization potential in the supply chain: Mass customized parts increase customer satisfaction and offer new revenue streams within a given supply chain

Start Your Manufacturing Project with MakerVerse

MakerVerse is a platform for sourcing industrial parts. It provides instant access to a vetted supply chain and a full range of manufacturing technologies. With AI-powered quoting, order management, and fulfillment, MakerVerse helps with everything from initial prototypes to full-scale production.

Get Quote

3D Printing’s Three Main Application Areas

1. Prototyping and Modeling Increasing the speed of time to market for innovations. Examples include:
  • Design hackathons (e.g., rapid prototyping with overnight prints and daily design iterations)
  • Testing of new design features (e.g., piece part integration, topology optimized parts)
  • Solving ad-hoc manufacturing issues (e.g., geometry)
Want to learn more about rapid prototyping? Check out this guide for a deep dive. 2. Tooling Decreasing setup cost for faster small-volume production tools Examples include:
  • Moulds (e.g., allowing cooling channels below the surface, cost-efficient for small batches)
  • Assembly line tooling (e.g. customized gripper solutions, clamps, jigs)
3. Spare Parts and Direction Manufacturing Improving the performance and sourcing of end-use parts Examples include:
  • High-performance parts (e.g., topology optimized brackets in aerospace)
  • Parts with customized surface texturing and patterning (e.g., functional grips of robots)
  • Spare parts on demand (e.g. moving parts, urgent demands, production in remote areas)

Critical 3D Printing Use Cases

Use Case #1: Applying additive manufacturing to prototyping and modeling for better products and faster design cycles The challenges in adopting additive manufacturing are varied. First, there needs to be more design knowledge to ensure the functionality and manufacturability of prototypes. Next, there’s the cycle time. Fast iteration cycles are required to decrease the time to market from the first designs to the final products. Finally, the suitable material and technology must be selected to fulfill the requirements. How MakerVerse Helps
  • Quick design feedback: Receive free MakerVerse expert consultation and digital platform support to determine the feasibility of product design
  • Fast order allocation: Realize rapid manufacturing with short lead times through MakerVerse’s network of 700+ printers across Europe
  • Broad material offering: Navigate through MakerVerse’s comprehensive portfolio of 25+ materials and technologies with dedicated decision trees
Use Case #2: Use additive manufacturing to improve the design and lead time of tooling parts All companies want to increase speed. However, obstacles make this problematic. The big challenge is capital expenditures, as tools have high setup costs per unit due to small batch production on different machines. Sourcing the rights parts is risky, as tools require many parts that increase supply chain complexity and the risk of failure. How MakerVerse Helps
  • Efficient 3D printing as a service: Save setup costs by using MakerVerse’s network of 700+ printers across Europe
  • Expert consolation/ review: Integrate piece parts in the design with free specialist consultation and the digital platform, helping to determine design feasibility
  • Strict quality assurance: Quality oversight from Zeiss to ensure functionality and operational safety of tools
Use Case #3: Implement additive manufacturing to produce critical spare parts and reduce inventory rapidly Quickly sourcing spare parts while reducing inventory helps improve efficiency. The challenge is that urgent spare parts require machine capacity close to the point of use, which might only sometimes be available. Furthermore, high service level objectives lead to extensive inventories with low turnover. Finally, rare out-of-production parts require high set-up costs for tooling and supply chain setup. How MakerVerse Helps
  • Fast order allocation: Realize fast lead times through MakerVerse’s network of 1000+ printers and machines across the world
  • Reliable supply chain: Improve part availability by storing parts digitally on MakerVerse and printing them on-demand with our certified supplier network
  • Broad material offering: Find efficient solutions for out-of-production parts enabled by MakerVerse’s comprehensive portfolio of materials and technologies