The time it takes to go from design to final product is integral to company success and viability. Everyone involved, from design through to finance wants to see parts and products available faster. However, in this drive for speed, it’s important to consider all manufacturing technologies available and select those that meet your product requirements.
Manufacturers and parts suppliers of white goods have a distinct advantage in speeding time to market while maintaining quality control and safety standards with additive manufacturing. While additive manufacturing was initially used to make one-off items such as models, prototypes, and fixtures, it has graduated to be the manufacturing process of choice for a broad range of industries.
There are a lot of moving parts that have to work together to operate white goods effectively and consistently. Think of the interior of a dishwasher, oven hood, or air conditioner – each of these requires a long list of parts that must all work together to keep the equipment working.
Internal parts are great candidates for additive manufacturing. An internal fan or blower for an range hood made with 3D printers can shorten production time by reducing tooling for fan components. Since additive manufacturing does not require jigs, fixtures, or tooling to manufacture parts, the production cycle can be reduced by not waiting on the fixtures to arrive for the range hood fan.
In addition, parts for the range hood can be significantly consolidated to just a few additive manufactured parts. BOM consolidation saves assembly time and give product designers freedoms that were not possible before. Complex geometries, lattice structures, and intricate designs for production parts are no longer a constraint. Product part designs that were either too expensive, time consuming to assemble, or lacked the functionality are now possible. Going back the drawing board and rethinking product design is a benefit of additive manufacturing.
One area where additive manufacturing is already making a mark in the white goods industry is in after-market parts. Replacement components for older machines that otherwise run well is an opportunity for 3D printed parts. Ducting that has aged and needs to be replaced is a perfect example.
Not only does additive manufacturing help white goods companies overcome key industry concerns and barriers, it also offers some high priority benefits to part design, manufacturing, and production.
Integrating additive manufacturing into how you design parts, support customers, and continue to grow is not a risk – it’s a benefit. Know that with additive manufacturing you’ll be improving your products, reducing resource demands and be better able to quickly respond to customer demands.
Download our industrial machines white paper to determine how and where additive manufacturing best fits into your company. Start small and move forward as you realize the cost savings, safety benefits, and scalability options of additive manufacturing.