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Why Companies Should Outsource 3D Printing

Not all manufacturers are fully vertically integrated and can take a product from prototype to production in-house.  Even the largest Fortune 500 companies outsource elements of projects for prototypes and production parts and assemblies.

Why do they do this?  How can you take advantage of providing 3D Printing services to manufacturers? Despite having a variety of resources at their disposal ‒ sometimes including their own 3D printing machines ‒ outsourcing for these firms can be a faster, less expensive and less problematic.

Below are the top five reasons why companies should outsource their 3D Printing.

Capacity

Even for large companies that have their own 3D printers, resource constraints can cause bottlenecks in production.  If a firm’s 3D printers are tied up on other projects, teams can’t get parts built fast enough.  As a solution, outsourcing this production allows them to harness additional capacity.

To help reduce lead times, Klacam utilizes multiple machines with the same technology and material, and only procure machines with large build volumes.  This combination allows us to maximize the number of parts we can print at once, and help eliminate production bottlenecks while keeping costs down.

Technology

A company should outsource their 3D Printing when they don’t have the right equipment.  For example, they may own a SLA machine, but don’t have a metal 3D printer in-house. Given the high upfront capital costs of professional commercial grade 3D printers and the rapid pace of 3D printing technology, many firms don’t want to pay for a new 3D technology, only to have it become obsolete by something better in a few months.

At Klacam, we’re constantly evaluating the latest 3D printing technologies, and adding more processes and materials, so customers can build exactly what they need when they need it.

Cost

Owning a high-end 3D printer is expensive.  On top of the machine costs, companies also need raw materials, special infrastructure (e.g., electricity, HVAC, air filtration, inert gases), and skilled labor to operate them.

Even if a firm has the right equipment in-house, it may actually be less expensive to outsource a project than to build it themselves.  At Klacam, we buy materials in larger quantities to fulfill multiple clients and build multiple orders at a time, generating economies of scale and providing cost savings to clients.

Expertise

Like other manufacturing technologies (CNC Turning, Milling & 5 Axis), the professional 3D printing learning curve can be steep.  Given that the sector that is still new and rapidly growing, expertise is key to successful 3D printing operations. Companies need the right combination of knowledge and experience to operate the machine and to set up the parts for best results.  Small changes in equipment, build orientation, mix of materials, and support material (if applicable) can all impact results.

Lead Times

If constrained by time, and it is almost always faster to outsource your 3D printing. When ordering parts lead time can vary from vendor to vendor. This variability may create inventory surplus or stock-outs. Eliminate this issue by consolidating your company’s suppliers. Rather than ordering from various 3D Printing providers and receiving shipments at random, having one supplier means you have greater control over your parts.

But another major advantage for outsourcing production is reducing the lead time that it takes to get a specific kind of material. It’s impossible to design and manufacture parts when you’re unable to obtain the necessary materials. This is especially problematic if the materials are not commonly available, as lead time can be weeks or months on 3D Printing Materials.  Klacam stocks multiple printing materials across our printer technologies. This way, orders can be fulfilled and shipped out as quickly as possible. You get all the benefits of 3D printing without the high cost of ownership of something that is not your core competency.

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