Mass Manufacturing to Mass Customization: a boon for small- to mid-sized manufacturers

Posted 10/24/2013

How many hours have employees and owners of small companies spent looking for standard components they can adapt to their products? Small companies are often more focused, more passionate and more inclined to customize their product according to customer feed-back, but are often restricted by a lack of capital and other resources. They have only been able look on while large, well-resourced corporations tool-up and race away with their ideas.

I, like many engineering types, have spent hours trying to develop and adapt a host of products and ideas that ended up sitting on the backburner waiting to be tried and tested. Most were in the “too-hard basket”; too expensive and time consuming to test, or the design too radical for normal manufacturing methods.

The world has changed with 3D printing. From a design and manufacturing point of view there is a new world of opportunity. Now I’m the lion amongst the herd of running zebras; the pickings are so good and so many that I’m overwhelmed by the possibilities. I’m the one asking, “Which one should I attack first; everywhere I look there is opportunity!”

3D printing allows small businesses to become who they really want to be, able to react quickly in these ever-changing markets, while the more risk averse, large corporations struggle to respond and change quickly to the environment.

Smaller companies will pick up and run with 3D-printed components, taking to customization like a duck to water. They will respond quickly, picking up this new technology and changing direction to seize their prey.

Here at Palmer Design & Manufacturing we are already working with such companies. Do you have an idea to try or a product to develop or customize?  Hit the ground running with Palmer Design & Manufacturing – with zero capital outlay.

Talk to us today to see how we can help you join the new manufacturing revolution!

Andrew Palmer

Director – Palmer Design & Manufacturing Ltd

Is additive manufacturing a good name for 3D printing?

For my business, I don’t think so. When I tell people I have an additive manufacturing company they don’t know what I’m talking about. To the layman, additive manufacturing could be the creation or development of ingredients for petrol or jam! So, personally, it’s really not that great in this context.

So where did the additive manufacturing title come from?

Additive manufacturing is the process of creating a solid 3D object from a 2D digital image, and simply describes the sequential laying down of material on top of another until the object is complete. This, of course, is different from the subtractive manufacturing process where components are machined and lumps of material removed, rather than adding material as in 3D printing.

But these, for my customers to understand it, are still weak reasons to run with the title. Consider traditional injection molding where material is literally added to a mold; this also is additive manufacturing.  So injection molding is as much like additive manufacturing as 3D printing.

In my view “3D printing” is still the best way to describe the 3D printing business and its processes. There is no need for fancy names, but if we must have one, how does this sound: AMA (Automated Material Arrangement)?