5 ways 3D Printing & Virtual Prototyping can help the plastics and packaging industries

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Many plastics and packaging manufactures struggle to see the business case for adopting 3D printing or virtual prototyping.


In an industry where clients and customers specify designs and injection, it is key for manufacturers to have efficient technology and tools to supply this demand. Whilst many manufacturers may consider 3d printers to be slow and expensive, struggling to see the benefits and value it brings.


Here are five good reasons plastics businesses are turning to 3D printing and virtual prototyping…


1)      3D Printing is a great option for making short-run moulds: A polymer based 3D printed mould is an ideal solution for short-run batches. 3D printing a mould in a polymer for around 300 unit productions runs can make previously unprofitable work a high margin activity. This allows the business to bring in new revenue and allow more customisation to customers as well as reducing set up costs.


2)      Metal 3D Printing can reduce your energy cost and speed up production: 3D printing metal moulds provides better quality tooling and allows for new dimensions of optimisation in the cooling process. Additive manufacturing allows new approaches to designing cooling channels. This can cut cycle time and save energy, improving the consistency of the finished product, improving throughput and potentially reducing power costs if a more controlled and uniformed approach to heating and cooling is achieved.


3)      Cheaper prototyping: Most companies already use 3D CAD, Revit, Solidworks, Inventor. No matter what you use, those models can quickly and easily be imported into a virtual prototyping environment, this is more than just showing a product in a VR headset. Virtual Prototyping also opens the door to simulation where businesses can assess the structural performance of the product and how material properties perform differently when tested in a variety of temperatures.


4)      Better tooling: Producing good quality one-off tooling for the business can be time consuming. 3D printing allows you to quickly and cheaply fabricate tooling, tailored to each bespoke job.


5)      Grow sales revenue:  If you already run a plastics or packaging business, you will already have the stock, staff, software and logistics networks in place that many new 3D printing businesses covet. You have a client base, the infrastructure and the skills to deliver traditional plastic packaging, why not benefit from a new revenue stream from offering 3D printing services alongside the established business?



Contact Andrew Borland for more information.