Monday, September 19, 2011

How will rapid prototyping & 3D Printing change your innovation path?

Often when I try to explain the future outcomes of rapid prototyping and 3D printing to people, I tend to revert to my geeky youth. "Do you remember the Replicator from Star Trek? It will be kinda like that, but probably not that for some time." Those who have seen Star Trek then nod their heads, those who have not, shake them.
The challenge with additive manufacturing technologies and what they could become in the future is that the actual workflows and uses for these technologies are still poorly understood. When you look at the Replicator example, the outcome, its success, is building a cup of Earl Grey on-demand. Often, people think of 3D printers of today in the same manner, they print objects that we can test, use or sell. It's just that they do all three poorly today, so we should focus on better technology to get the machines to that level. The reality is that the outcomes that a rapid prototype and a 3D printer can deliver you today are much more diverse. It is about the experience, the workflow and the intellectual property gained.

By building a rough 3D printed model, using the simplest of technologies available, you can gain a lot of knowledge about a product or particular part. How will it fit, how will it be handled, how will it be shipped, how does it change production or quality assurance testing, how does it break, how do we service it? By using a rapid prototype, the lurking costs and challenges of entire implementation, manufacturing process and user workflow can be reviewed and analyzed.

When we use a rapid prototype to look at workflow, you may not even need to have something function to provide value to the process. The folks at Bright Innovation used a non-functioning prototype of a wearable computer system to understand what nurses felt comfortable with having an assistant system do. This non-functioning prototype was nothing more than a person playing the role of the wearable computer, but even this basic prototype helped build perspective of what will be critical to the next steps of the prototyping process and set context for overall outcomes the new solution much achieve.
It is from these lessons that true solution architecture can be created and intellectual property can be retained in an organization. Successful ideas, solutions and technologies inherently enable the user, which sounds overly simplistic. The reality is that value comes from successfully understanding of the context of the idea to the consumer and their particular objectives within an environment or transaction. This context and execution is not so simple and is the reason for every iPad there are several dozen multimillion dollar tablet failures. 

Rapid prototyping allows users and organizations to gain experience with an idea and implementations quickly, understand the challenges of manufacturing and retain reference knowledge about how to solve problems in a economic and scalable manner. 3D printing and the other complimentary additive manufacturing technologies that exist offer much to the innovating mind. Understanding how you and your business can leverage this will be key to manufacturing competitiveness in the next decade.

At AssentWorks, we give organizations access to 3D printers and other rapid prototyping technologies so they can innovate, enhance their competitive edge and bring Manitoba to the forefront of manufacturing in the 21st century. Please come see what we have to offer as we build out our Beta location in downtown Winnipeg. 

Also, be sure to check out the presentation that CME-MEC is putting on in October 14th regarding 3D printing and Rapid Prototyping. It looks like it will be a great event!

October 14, 2011

Want to find out more about 3D Printing/Rapid Prototyping? Join an industry veteran and three local users share their experiences and perspectives.

A sleek, but deceptively simple, disruptive technology is evening out the playing field in which companies large and small can compete. Commonly known as 3D printing or rapid prototyping, additive manufacturing is used within the design, engineering, and manufacturing fields and with all types and sizes of products. The advantages that these technologies offer are numerous and well documented, reduced development time, reduced development costs, much faster time-to-market overall, and greater design freedom.

Full Details & Speaker Information

Who should attend: Designers, Engineers, Product Developers, Architects, Production and Operations Managers, R&D, Executives and Technology Integrators.

For more information, please contact Betty Dearth at the ITC office at (204) 480-0336 / or Tammy Oakes at CME at (204) 949-1454.

1 comment:

  1. There are no limitations in front of you. Let your imagination inspire you. You will rise to the occasion and the end result will be your triumph of creating an exquisite masterpiece.

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