Companies use a low-volume approach to test products in the market before high volume production or if the demand is small. Low volume options include injection molding, CNC milling, and 3D printing. Each low-volume manufacturing method has pros and cons and is best implemented for specific applications. Low Volume Manufacturing Method 1: Injection Molding Injection…

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3D printing has many rapid prototyping applications, allowing companies to accomplish more in less time without sacrificing product quality. Today’s 3D printing systems require no tooling and support a broad range of materials, so designers can enable rapid functional prototyping and make faster transitions to full-scale manufacturing.

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Today, the 3D printing field has advanced in accuracy, product complexity, and the number of available processes. Companies can scale the production of complex products to high volume using two processes: stereolithography (SLA) and digital light processing (DLP).

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Two common 3D printing processes are fused deposition modeling (FDM) and digital light processing (DLP). Each of these 3D printing processes is best suited to specific product applications. Anyone interested in using 3D printing for their next product should understand the differences between FDM vs. DLP 3D printing. DLP processes and systems enable the manufacturing of products like dental appliances, medical devices, and footwear. With greater speed, better surface finishing, and isotropic material properties DLP may be a better choice for companies looking to decrease product development time, de-risk manufacturing operations, and create unique business models.

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The ideal additive manufacturing process

Additive manufacturing is often associated with low-volume production or prototyping. Some 3D printers are developed for the sole purpose of rapid prototyping. Still, innovations in 3D printing technology have made high-volume production both feasible and often the best solution for accelerating a new product to market. 3D printing has no tooling costs and very few design limitations. Companies can implement 3D printing solutions from innovation through production, eliminating certain drawbacks associated with traditional manufacturing.

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Traditional footwear manufacturing is a time-consuming process that often limits designs. With high tooling costs and production limitations, initial designs, tooling, and prototyping can take months to complete and require significant investments. The final product design must fit the production method, and processes, like injection molding, can constrain the design. Products need to be developed so that tools can be built for mass production. Designers who work with injection molding must often reconfigure their product layouts to meet production criteria after the prototyping stage.

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