3D printing is the ideal way to evaluate alternative design concepts. Concept models improve early design decisions and selecting the right design path earlier in the process reduces costs and shortens the development cycle.
3D printing allows design verification to be an iterative process where designers identify and address design challenges throughout the design process to spur new ideas or quickly identify the need for design revision.
Form and fit models
We would normally expect our dimensional tolerance to be within 100 microns. Targeted dimensions can be brought to within 50 microns. For most projects this allows 3D printing to be used for form and fit and provide real time collision detection without investment in tooling costs.
3D printing can reduce the investment risk and shorten the time cycle in this critical phase. This is a huge benefit to the pre- production phase, which often involves significant investment in tooling, jigs and fixtures, and to material and component commitments within the supply chain.
Clearly one would not expect plastic parts to be used in field trials for a new automotive engine piston, but for many parts the viability for field trials prior to tooling exists.