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How a 3D Print Farm Can Help Your Business 

by Redstack 
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How a 3D Print Farm Can Help Your Business

Formlabs 3D Print Farm

A well managed 3D print farm can be a strong addition to your existing organisation.  It could even become a separate stand alone business for you. Building a cell of multiple 3D printers can increase your capacity, allow you to simultaneously print using multiple materials and enable you to offer 3D printing as a service, creating an entirely new revenue stream.

A 3D print farm is a coordinated collection of 3D printers used for manufacturing models. 3D print farms are arguably the most pure form of direct digital manufacturing (DDM), as 3D printers allow you to go directly from CAD to print.

Below you will discover a range of reasons why you should consider investing in a 3D print farm  There are three common environments that support DDM well:

  1. Print farms: Cells of multiple coordinated 3D printers.
  2. Microfactories: Localised spaces with a small footprint, focused on providing a variety of fabrication services for a small number of customers.
  3. Makerspaces: collaborative community spaces, often based on a class or membership model, offering various fabrication tools and training for anyone to access and use.

Why Build a 3D Print Farm?

Formlabs 3D Print Farm

The print production facility at Formlabs HQ.

Support growth in design and engineering teams
When you have a large design and engineering teams, it can be difficult to manage 3D printer usage and maintenance amongst the team, especially when some team members are better at maintaining 3D printers than others. Adding a 3D print farm centralises responsibility for 3D printer maintenance and allows engineers, designers and any team membersto work on their separate prints simultaneously.

Formlabs Form 2 3D printer

Increase Production Capacity
Whether you're 3D printing your own work or running of prints for clients, a collection of  3D printers makes it easier to offer 3D printing as a paid service.

For example, Chris Vestal, principal of MotoMinded, started his dirt bike accessory company in three days with a bank of 3D printers, going from prototype to production right on his workbench without the hassle of requiring molds. Chris has been able to produce parts on demand and maintain reasonable stock levels.

The Formlabs print farm, with about 50 Form 2 3D printers, can produce an average of 650 parts per week in various materials and is managed by seven staff. You don’t require a dedicated operator for each printer, just a few staff with basit technical and CAD skills to keep things going.

Formlabs 3D Print Farm

The Formlabs print production team produces hundreds of sample parts each week in multiple materials.

Print in Multiple Materials Simultaneously
Most 3D printers will only allow you to print in one material at a time, which means  multiple material assemblies can take a long time if you only have one printer.  A 3D print farm enables printing of multiple materials simultaneously, saving significant amounts of time and getting your products to market efficiently.

Offer 3D Printing as a Paid Service
Online marketplaces have made it easy to launch and manage your own 3D printing service, creating a revenue stream from your exceess 3D printing capacity with outside orders. There are a range of websites that allow users who aren’t printing enough to justify owning a high quality 3D printer themselves to submit their CAD files, or 3D models and select a provider to print and ship their models.

If you’re interested in heading down this path, it’s probably best to start small and scale accordingly, which can be easily done with today's 3D printing technology.

Improved Redundancy and Reliability
Even with the most reliable and robust technology, user error or general maintenance needs can take down a 3D printer at any time. If you only own one printer, if that printer goes down you have lost your entire 3D printing capacity and may need to engage an external provider, adding time and cost to your projects. Setting up a 3D print farm with multiple printers provides reliability and redundancy, meaning there’s always a backup plan.  Even if you do lose a printer, your printing capacity is not entirely removed.

Build and Manage Your Own 3D Print Cell 
Interested in building your own 3D printing cell of six or more printers for prototyping or low volume production? Download this white paper to learn how to build and manage a multi-printer facility.

More information
Contact us on 1300 667 263 to speak with a 3D printing expert today or purchase your Formlabs Form 2 3D printers today at store.redstack.com.au.

 

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