How to Build a Better End-to-End 3DP Design-to-Manufacturing Platform

With design for manufacturing becoming an increasingly critical part of the product development process, manufacturers are looking to integrate design for manufacturing (DfM) and design for manufacturing and assembly (DfAM) earlier in their life cycle. The goal is to reduce risk during product launch, save time and ensure a seamless transition from prototype to full-scale manufacturing.

Having developed large volumes of large-scale 3D printing, 3DEO added design and engineering services to its business model. 3DEO now offers end-to-end design and manufacturing services using its proprietary platform. The company took over the system it uses to design and produce products, and now offers the system to external users.

In this interview, the president and co-founder of 3EDO, Matt Sand, reveals the details of this system. It explains what makes it work and what ingredients help users improve their design and production efforts.

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Design News: Explain what it takes to create an end-to-end design-to-manufacturing program for 3D printing.

Matt sand: We work with clients from initial concept through full-scale production, and everything in between. With the addition of this service, we can now help you from the start of a project, when the nugget of an idea for a new or different project first emerges. We can help with ideation, even offering hands-on design to help solve the toughest problems.

We have a very smart application engineering team well versed in conventional manufacturing and cutting-edge 3D printing. For this reason, if there is a better way to design or manufacture something conventionally, we will recommend it. If it is possible to take advantage of 3D printing to redesign a product in a way that improves performance or significantly reduces the total cost of production, we can also recommend it. When designing for 3D printing, we developed a proprietary suite of design and production software tools to address these issues. But really, the big differentiator is our team.

DN: Explain what development entails advanced production manufacturing technologies.

matte sand: 3DEO’s Manufacturing Cloud is the end-to-end platform that we have been developing for six years to provide a fully vertically integrated solution to our customers. It includes all the software, hardware, materials, and processes needed to scale to high-volume production. As far as I know, 3DEO is one of the largest metal 3D printing companies in the world thanks to the progress we have made with the Manufacturing Cloud.

Adding design services to our offering allows us to go even deeper into a customer’s world to help them intentionally design for additive manufacturing – and our process, in particular. We help them solve their toughest engineering problems and rethink the potential of what’s possible when they eliminate the design limitations, high costs and long lead times of conventional manufacturing.

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Design-to-manufacture 3D printing systems can create purpose-built objects for large-scale production.

DN: Are these services that your customers use themselves (by accessing your platform) or are they services that 3DEO performs on behalf of customers?

matte sand: Both, in fact. We can do everything for a client, from developing initial concepts, designing them in CAD and printing prototypes to full-scale production. If we’re working with a larger client who has an in-house design team, they may just want to brainstorm for a series of meetings and curate the designs themselves. If we are working with a smaller client who has limited design and engineering resources, they may ask us to take on the full design. We are very flexible in the way we work with our clients.

DN: What motivated this development? Customer requests?

matte sand: So far, we have worked with end-use production customers for many years, directly competing with CNC machining and metal injection molding. Over the years, it has become clear that the only way to unlock the full potential of additive manufacturing and realize the next generation of products is to design specifically for additive manufacturing.

It’s one thing to print a part that was designed for MIM. It’s different and revolutionary to approach applications from the start with the mindset that we’re going to fundamentally rethink how we solve this problem with the full power of 3D printing. Our customers have been asking us for help for years, and we’re finally at the stage in our business where we have the resources and application design and engineering expertise to be able to dive in headfirst with our customers. We can design for them or train them on how to think about design to empower their team.

DN: Explain the development of this platform. Is this a platform that you used internally and now offer to your customers? Or is it newly developed?

matte sand: We’ve grown our applications team and expertise over the past few years, and we’ve leveraged the team to solve many of our toughest internal manufacturing challenges. But, we are finally at the stage of our business where we have the design and applications engineering resources and expertise to be able to dive in head-first with our customers. We can design for them or train them on how to think about design to empower their team.