3D Printing in the product development cycle
3D Printing is typically the appropriate technology when a physical representation of a component design is needed immediately in low volumes where accuracy, surface finish, and material properties are not of primary concern. Defined in this way, the application space for 3D Printing includes a wide range of directly printed polymers and metals and an even broader range of materials via intermediate processes such as thermoforming and sand casting. However an increasing number of companies are validating 3D Printed materials for end-use applications, and industrial-grade 3D Printers are becoming fast enough to produce small components in higher volumes.
RJC has perfected the art of producing injection molded components in extremely short timelines, making the decision between additive manufacturing and injection molding predominantly a matter of component cost, surface finish, accuracy, material properties, and productivity. Once molds are produced and set up to run, typically in 5-10 workdays, injection molding is extremely efficient and cost-effective compared to 3D Printing, and yields parts made in any commercially available thermoplastic material. Where 3D Printed components are produced in hours and tens of dollars per part, injection molding requires minutes and dollars (or less) per equivalent part invalidated materials.
At RJC, because we offer both families of technology, Additive Manufacturing, and Injection Molding, we are able to suggest the best approach for each phase of a product development project. During the ideation, design, and form/fit phases we deliver 3D printed concept models, during the validation and bridge production we can either 3D Print or injection mold depending on the production process, and finally for production we typically injection mold. This flexibility and technology-agnostic approach set RJC apart from our competitors.