How Additive Manufacturing Is Changing Mass Customization

Posted by RE3DTECH Team on 10/6/21 11:36 AM

Traditional manufacturing methods like CNC machining and injection molding have long been considered the go-to solutions for mass production. And while these methods are useful for manufacturing large quantities of identical parts, the conventional wisdom doesn’t hold up when mass customization comes into play.

It’s the difference between making one mold or programming a machine one time and having to make adjustments for every single customization. When you’re dealing with thousands of parts, that process can quickly become costly and time-consuming. 

That’s why in recent years, industrial 3D printing has emerged as an optimal alternative for manufacturing customized products at scale. This additive manufacturing technology provides the opportunity to iterate from one part to the next without slowing down production. 

Applications for 3D Printing Customized Products at Scale

There are many different applications for 3D printing customized products at scale. Here are a few examples:

  • Mass Customization Handmade products. When products are made in a traditional factory setting, there’s an element of standardization and consistency that makes it easy to design identical mating parts. But handmade products are a completely different beast.

    Take, for example, an instrument like a violin or a trombone, where portions of the frame are handmade. Since no two frames will ever be identical, the same logic must apply to any mating parts. Additive technology makes it possible to create entirely unique parts to complete the instrument. 
  • Medical and dental devices. Devices like casts, prosthetics, infant helmets, and Invisalign dental retainers are excellent candidates for industrial 3D printing.

    One of our customers makes one-off prosthetic boots that must be custom-tailored to each individual’s body. With additive technology, we can get them the unique parts they need quickly and cost-effectively. 
  • QR codes for traceability. Some applications for mass customization aren’t immediately visible to the naked eye, but are still incredibly advantageous.

    Imagine having the ability to embed a QR code directly into your part for traceability purposes. Highly regulated industries like aerospace and medical could benefit from this kind of traceability to help identify counterfeit parts. In CNC machining, the G-code would need to be rewritten every single time, but with industrial 3D printing, it’s easy to embed unique QR codes into each part. 

Additive manufacturing opens the door to so many high-value customization opportunities that were always assumed to be impossible or prohibitively expensive. 

As a quick thought experiment, consider how your product line could leverage customization for a better product or customer experience. Even something as simple as a QR code that brings up assembly instructions could help set you apart from the competition. 

Want to discuss your ideas with a team of additive manufacturing experts? Contact RE3DTECH to learn more about opportunities for mass customization at scale. 


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