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Does your employer have a 3D printer & what do you use it for?

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My previous employer was considering purchasing a consumer grade printer for the office but the budget was tight and I wasn't able to justify it. Let me know if you have a 3D printer at work and how you use it!

We use it to prototype airplane seat components. It is really useful for fit and form checks and is much cheaper than having another company machine it for us. Recently we've done armrest pads, seat shrouds, video bezels. It saves a lot of time and money.

We use 3D printed parts for weird go/no-go gauges (the customer is always right).

I convinced my employer to buy a 3D printer, after he saw all the improvements i made on the machines i already developed (printed on my home printer), now sometimes, i have 5 - 6 evolutions of a piece, in traditional manufacturing, it would be extremely expensive!
I made an ROI study, and after less then 5 parts, the 3d printer was already payd back (Creator Leapfrog HS)
Happy!

I'm an ME using SolidWorks, and I've used 3D printing in my past and current companys. We print parts for fixtures that would traditionally have cost hundreds of dollars if machined from aluminum and take weeks to acquire, and only cost dollars and minutes to print the fixtures in PLA. Also, design mistakes are easy to correct (reprint). We also make circuit boards that go into plastic enclosures. Having the ability to print dollars worth of prototype plastic enclosures, with functional hinges/latches/buttons, and submit the prototypes to Marketing who then changes everything, is priceless when it comes to committing to injection mold tooling that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I often catch my own design oversights with the 3D printed parts, so they that don't flow down to the final tooling. All this off a Makerbot Rep 2. The machine isn't perfect, but it has paid for itself many times over.

My company is a 3D printing service/retailer. I mean, duh, I use printers! My company is pretty darn new, and our website isn't even online yet. Man, we have a tight budget. We purchased a Printrbot Simple Metal to print with.

Cool man! Definitely post your website URL when it's online, would love to follow your progress : ) I'm part of a 3D printer startup in Seoul, Korea (http://ateamventures.com/), good to hear that there are many business-minded 3D printing enthusiasts! Wish you the best.

We used to have an old Stratasys BST until it went end of life. Looked into an updated model from them, but they were around $45K (and materials are in the mid $200's per kilogram).

After more research, we went with a Lulzbot TAZ 5 ($2.2K, materials are around $30 per kilogram).

We do product prototyping with it. Working on getting the dual extruder head to make the most of it.

Hi DragonMountainDesign, would you mind if I ask what you mean by "end of life". It's just that so many desktop printers are are modular, it seems you can just swap out faulty parts indefinitely, but I guess it's not the same for an industrial-grade printer?

"End Of Life" meant that Stratasys discontinued the manufacture of replacement parts and maintenance services.

When the machine stopped working, we found it would have cost $5,000 for ONE of the replacement parts.

It was kinda a no-brainer after that quote.

I worked for a company that made airconditioners, so we bought a cheap printer just do do first pass prototypes of new designs for louvres and deflectors and things. It was great because the boss loved physical items and it was much easier to convince him when he had a physical prototype in hand rather than just an image on screen.
Regards
Andrew

I work in R&D for a building envelope company (aka windows, curtain walls and stuff). I managed to convince my boss to get a Makerbot Replicator 2X. The machine paid itself in a month by avoiding costly conception mistakes. Sometime, you have to physically test out a part, 3D rendering can only go so far. Nothing beats real world testing.

We have multiple printers here and we make first prototypes consumer electric appliances.
4 professional grade printer +1 coming up
6 homeuser printers: 3 ultimakers and 2 printerbots 1 formlabs :)

Love working here

We have a Strasys (badged HP).

Its brilliant.

We use it for everything, and its 100% utilised.

We will build concept models, appearance models and jigs on it.

I work for an optometrist who is thinking of getting one for using to produce glasses and print specialized parts for some of the equipment that can cost 10s of thousands. The real inspiration came when I printed an adapter part for a camera to be able to record from inside one of the slit lamps. The camera costs about $100 and a company sells a similar product for 18 thousand. The ability for small parts to save thousands is there.

I am a research assistant within the mechanical engineering department at a state university. We have a Replicator 2 and a 2X. We have had them for just under a year and they have had very little use so far. The most use they get is from senior design groups who need to test their part designs before having them manufactured by other means.

Hi ZzTriplett, did the senior design groups only use the Replicators for prototyping because the choice of materials was limited, or because they required their parts in volumes that the Replicators couldn't manage, or for some other reason entirely? Thank you : )

We have a Makerbot Replicator 2x. We use it for prototyping/fit-up testing and the manufacturing people have started using it for permanent use parts for testing equipment.

At my company, we use a Printrbot Simple Metal to print sensor mounting brackets for airborne applications. Each bracket holds sensor equipment worth thousands of dollars in place inside flying aircraft. So that should give you an idea of serious work you can use these 3D printers for.

Haha, Wow, you are using the printed parts as part of the finished product! I'm surprised that there aren't FAA rules preventing things like that. Although certainly I can see the advantages of being able to produce very custom parts on demand at an extremely low cost. Thanks for sharing that!

It's not as bad as it sounds, the printed parts aren't external to the aircraft, and all the stuff we're doing are correctly FAA certified. It's also not a consumer product that we're selling, we deal with sensors and data, so being able to quickly and easily attach different equipment for data collection and testing is a huge bonus. As you say: it costs about $10 in PLA, and a few minutes of my time to set up and maintain the printer, versus thousands of dollars and many many man-hours fabricating it the traditional way; the savings when we have to repeat this process for different equipment is pretty substantial.

That is awesome! I think I read somewhere about a smart lock and a cleaner robot company that used 3D printers for their final product, anyways great to hear that you've found such a practical, cost-effective solution in 3D printing!

Wow that gives me hope for a real market for these things. I've used them enough to know you can get decent precision, but the fact that you guys use them for on the fly sensor mounts is really cool!