Top 10 advantages of using 3D printing for proof of concept
Proof of concept is an essential part of any product development process. Before moving onto rapid prototyping, you need to know what’s the starting point. 3D printing can really help you out with that by providing you new and better ways of producing your proof of concept. Today we will discuss what exactly is a proof of concept, why should you consider 3D printing as the ultimate method to create your model and how beneficial it can be for your manufacturing strategies.
What is proof of concept?
The product development process is a bit different depending on the final product, but we can make a general overview. No matter what the final product is, 3D printed house or a mobile application, it all starts with the idea. Then the ideas have to be put into words, sketches, to roughly visualize what is the final product about.
Proof of concept (POC) is a stage in the product development process between the idea and prototype. The aim of making a proof of concept is to showcase the functionality of the idea and usability of the concept. It is an important step, without it, you jump from sketches to prototype and you might find out that your idea can’t work. The aim of proof of concept is to avoid such an event.
Then the prototypes are made which lead to the preparation of manufacturing strategies of the final product.
What’s the difference between proof of concept and prototyping?
The proof of concept shows the model’s functionality but does not test it. It also doesn’t focus on the design aspect. That is what differs proof of concept from rapid prototyping. Proof of concept only visualizes the features, whereas the prototype’s goal will be to place the proof of concept in reality and exercise its functions. A prototype will also demonstrate the defects and necessary changes in order to develop the final product.
Using 3D printing for proof of concept
At Sculpteo, we conduct an industry report every year called The State of 3D Printing. This year’s edition, published at Forbes Magazine, showcases the use of Additive Manufacturing as a technique to work on proof of concept. Actually, it’s interesting to see that proof of concept and prototyping dominate 3D printing applications.
In our study, we also took a closer look at specific areas such as Consumer Goods. Power Users are a group of 3D printing users using Additive Manufacturing for work purposes for over 2 years and invest at least $10 000 in 3D printing. They have a significant impact on the industry. And according to data we collected, 75% of Power Users in the Consumer Goods sector is using AM technologies for proof of concept.
Why is 3D printing the right choice for your proof of concept?
#1 Speed up your design process
3D printing produces your objects layer by layer, in no time. Traditional methods, such as injection molding or CNC machining, are expensive and can take weeks to develop a model. Time is precious when it comes to any design, and proof of concept especially. This stage of design is meant to be quick, however important, it is to simply provide a bridge from sketches to actual testing of functions.
This is why using Additive Manufacturing for Proof of concept can be highly beneficial. It will provide you with a good quality model which then can be used as a starting point to build prototypes in a short amount of time.
Desktop 3D printers are now much more affordable than they used to be. They come with various options of materials and technologies, from plastic to resins, and can produce your proof of concept overnight.
However, if you want to avoid the hassle of learning how to operate a 3D printer, you can use an online 3D printing service. Then, all you have to do is to upload a 3D file, and it will be taken care of for you. Your model for proof of concept will be delivered to your door shortly.
#3 Ease of learning 3D modeling software
3D modeling doesn’t have to be hard at all. We recently talked about the easiest 3D modeling software for you to start with. However, the real advantage of 3D modeling for proof of concept is the variety of software available.
Your project can be mechanical, or architectural, and you should then take a closer look at CAD design software. There is even software dedicated to jewelry making and fashion. Whatever the idea, there will be software with specialized tools such as automatic threads, to help you build a 3D model efficiently.
#4 Economic option
As proof of concept is made at an early stage of the product development process, it shouldn’t cost a lot. As mentioned above, Additive Manufacturing enables new design possibilities.
To make your proof of concept more economic, thanks to 3D printing, you can hollow your parts or fill them with lattices. Lattices are inside structures that keep your model strong, but lightweight and reduce the amount of material used. Additive Manufacturing can easily be a more economic option to produce your proof of concept.
#5 Reduce production costs
You can see now that 3D printing doesn’t have to be expensive. Another advantage of using AM technologies for your proof of concept is lower material wastage. Usually, you need a small number of models for your proof of concept. No other technology will give you the option to produce just one or two models at an affordable price.
#6 New level of design freedom
Some of your ideas might be complex and despite being an early stage as proof of concept, you still need to prove that they will work. Thanks to 3D printing you can produce complex structures, interlocking parts, and even enclosed parts. Additive manufacturing gives you absolutely new design solutions, which often can’t be achieved with traditional manufacturing methods
#7 Ultimate customization
Every idea is unique and often needs new solutions. 3D printing gives you exactly that. It allows you to design complicated structures for your proof of concept, to develop your ideas even further. Additive Manufacturing improves your proof of concept by giving you the opportunity to produce highly personalized models that will fit your design needs.
#8 Diversity of technologies
Additive Manufacturing also offers your proof of concept a lot of technologies to choose from. Selective Laser Sintering will produce robust parts, so will Jet Fusion and the parts will have a smoother surface. If you require detailed proof of concept, possibly Carbon’s DLS resin technology will be the right choice. If needed, 3D printing technologies go as far as manufacturing parts with metal with methods such as Direct Metal Laser Sintering or Metal Casting.
Your project defines the technique you should pick to produce your proof of concept and 3D printing offers many options.
#9 Wide range of materials
If we talk about having great choices when it comes to 3D printing technologies, you will have an even bigger selection of materials. Additive Manufacturing can improve your proof of concept thanks to many materials that are flexible, strong, or robust. You can pick plastics, resins and even metals.
Proof of concept might not be focused on the design and functionality, but it’s still important for it to be durable as it has to last as a starting point for prototypes. Using 3D printing materials for your proof of concept will assure quality and durability.
#10 Different characteristics
Different materials also mean different characteristics. As mentioned above, possibly your proof of concept might have to showcase some level of elasticity or last for a long time to be presented to potential investors or engineers.
As materials give you all sorts of features, you can use this potential to explore new possibilities for your proof of concept. In the end, it’s the representation of your idea and has to prove that the final product is worth it. Your proof of concept should verify the value of the idea. You can achieve that by using the properties of 3D printing materials to exhibit the benefits of your product and prepare your manufacturing strategies.
Stay on top of your game
3D printing gives you the latest innovations. Additive Manufacturing is growing like no other industry. It allows you to improve your proof of concept by providing you with new, faster solutions to produce it, a variety of materials and technologies to choose from and cutting-edge 3D design solutions. Don’t waste any more time and start using 3D printing for your proof of concept right now!
If you consider AM technologies for your proof of concept or any other project, feel free to contact us. We’re here to help you develop your idea, pick the right material or technology. And if you already made up your mind, go ahead and upload your 3D model to our online 3D printing service.