Across all industries, companies are constantly seeking ways to reduce project costs and downtime without sacrificing the quality of their products — a challenging balance to achieve and maintain.
Additive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3D printing, allows businesses to streamline and speed up production without forgoing quality. 3D printing is not yet refined enough to replace any current full-scale production methods, but it is an invaluable method for prototyping.
Prototyping with 3D Printing
Prototyping is an extremely important step in product development. Prototyping custom manufactured parts, in particular, provides the opportunity to evaluate your design, demonstrate its concept, inspect it for flaws, correct any issues, and improve overall design. However, traditional prototyping can be a very time-consuming and expensive process.
Ford Motor Company has embraced 3D printing of manufactured parts for prototyping purposes, and, over the course of only a few years, has saved millions of dollars in prototyping costs and months upon months of development time.
As an example, an intake manifold is one of the most complex parts of a vehicle; with traditional methods, this took as long as four months and as much as $500,000 to prototype.
With 3D printing, Ford has cut that down to four days and $3,000 dollars, freeing both time and money for testing and design optimization.
Besides saving costs and time, additive manufacturing allows the same CAD software to be used to create various geometries, making it an extremely versatile process. And unlike CNC machining, 3D printing produces minimal waste, as the process only prints the material actually needed to create the desired product.
3D Printing for Valve Prototypes
Prototyping is notoriously challenging in the valve industry; valves are incredibly complex multi-component parts that require a full set of custom tooling to prototype. Tooling is a huge driver of time and costs for valve prototyping, especially for check valve prototyping. Luckily, 3D printing is making as big an impact in valve manufacturing as it is in car manufacturing.
DFT® Inc. has acquired a 3D printer that we use for valve prototyping, and its impact has been tremendous. This printer provides us with functioning 3D models to present to clients, which has proven to be a huge boon for collecting quality feedback from customers.
Compatible with all existing CAD software, it allows our designers and engineers to incorporate that feedback almost immediately and carry those ideas forward as the project progresses. Perhaps most importantly, it allows us to prototype valves for customers at drastically lower price points than we were capable of previously.
Utilizing DFT’s CAD Files
Since 1943, DFT® Inc. has been offering industry-leading valve manufacturing services, as well as check valve testing capabilities. Our 3D printing technology has allowed us to improve our prototyping and overall design offerings while decreasing costs and downtime for our customers. If you are an engineer interested in our prototyping services, the DFT® Inc. CAD Library is a great place to start.
Utilize the CAD Library to view our check valve drawings, which showcase models of various types, sizes, and end connections.