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Save Time and Money with 3D Printing for Your Business [Infographic]

Unbelievable advancements are being made in the 3D-printing world. Some ideas that were mere fantasy a few years ago are now in the works.

For example, NASA is sending the world’s first 3D printer into space; the body of the Urbee hybrid car is 3D printed; the first 3D-printed house is scheduled to be built in 2014; Cornell bioengineers are already 3D printing ears; custom jaw transplants have been created with a 3D printer; and hopefully 3D-printed organs such as kidneys are on the horizon.

But there are still some myths about 3D printing. Will there soon be a 3D printer in every home? Maybe not. Unless you have some working CAD knowledge, it could just collect dust. And are criminals going to be 3D printing their own guns? Unlikely. Not very cost effective or easy to do.

In reality, though, there are plenty of practical applications to use 3D printing for your business: prototypes for products, promotional items, replacement parts for appliances and machinery…. Check it all out in the latest Line//Shape//Space infographic below.

There are still some hurdles to clear, such as cost of materials, speed, and print quality, which you can read more about in the LSS article, “Early Adopters: Is 3D Printing Right for Your Business?”. But there’s good reason to be optimistic: You can pick up a consumer 3D printer for less than $2,000, and professional printers start at $5,000. A few years ago, you wouldn’t have found one for under $10,000.

And one case study from UC Davis—which compares in-house 3D printing jobs to buying from a supplier—reveals that you can recoup 18 percent of the cost of a printer in just one job. Plus, you don’t have to wait for the product to be shipped!

Have you tested out 3D printing at home or for your small business? Did you make any interesting discoveries? Or if you haven’t, what’s your hesitation to diving in?

3D Printing Infographic

Kylee Swenson Gordon

Kylee Swenson Gordon is a writer, musician, admirer of great design, editor in chief of Line//Shape//Space, and content marketing manager at Autodesk.

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  • Stuart Rabinowitz

    Another great article and infographic on the use of 3d printing.

    • http://www.lineshapespace.com/ LineShapeSpace

      Stuart Rabinowitz Thanks Stuart! I’m so glad you like it. It’s a pretty fascinating topic because it seems the possibilities are endless.

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  • lrodriguezmail

    Is there somewhere to get a PDF of this to print out for a Makerspace?

    • http://www.lineshapespace.com/ LineShapeSpace

      lrodriguezmail  
      Hi there: You can right-click on it and save as a JPG, but if you need a PDF, please email me at lss@autodesk.com. Thanks!

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  • greenleaftea

    I would love to try one of these out, is there anywhere in the LA area where I can try printing a product? Where do we go for a test run. $2000 sounds like a good deal to me for the personal use model. And how large is it?  
    My second question is MATERIAL: I understand it can print fabric, metals, plastics, wood compound?. I imagine we would also need to buy “bulk” material to print with. Also, a prototype of a shoe requires many different materials, how does the printer hold the various rubbers, nylon, and cotton “bulk parts” at one time? How does it deal with stitching, etc. 
    Naturally printing gold jewelry would be more expensive then plastic parts. I would like to understand what goes into the printer first, in order to print the  CADS of the product. Where do we buy source materials? What computer program does it use? 
    I would like to learn a bit more about the technology behind it. (I will check wikipedia now.) 
    I have seen 3D printers, but only in machine shops to date.

    • http://www.lineshapespace.com/ LineShapeSpace

      greenleafteaHi there: I’m asking for a little help from the consumer team at Autodesk to answer your questions. Stay tuned….

      • greenleaftea

        LineShapeSpace greenleaftea 
        Thank you. :)

    • http://www.lineshapespace.com/ LineShapeSpace

      greenleaftea 
      Hi there, I have some feedback to share from the Autodesk consumer team and the infographic researcher. As far as we know, there isn’t a 3D fabric printer. Take shoes as an example: 3D printing is great for making a mold or prototype that would be a component of the shoe, such as the sole or upper. But as the technology stands now, there isn’t a shoe-making 3D printer. The Objet machines we have in our consumer/Instructables building can print materials with differences in color, density, and rigidity, but it’s all still plastic. So 3D printing is not totally a replacement manufacturing process. Rubber still needs to be molded and cured separately. There are some experimental materials such as wood/plastic and vinyl, but the machines using those materials are expensive. 
      For further reading: 
      http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-06/foot-prints
      http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=3D+Printing&find_loc=Los+Angeles%2C+CA
      http://reprap.org/wiki/Printing_Material_Suppliers

      • greenleaftea

        Thank you! 
        I spent a good portion of my weekend reading up on 3D printing, so I feel I have a much better understanding of the advantages and limitations on the subject. 
        I do believe there is something to it, and it may be a big part of our life in the future. We still have quite a ways to go, since most of the products I have seen are solid one color objects. 
        I have spent time on Shapeways website, Etsy and read many other articles about it. There is definitely similarities to the style of current products, but this could change. 
        I look forward to getting involved in this new technology in the early stages. Someday we will say, “remember when you could only print in one color?”
        I wil check out the links you suggested.

  • greenleaftea

    Ok, I did see the Fusion 360 as software, I have this.

  • jimmydeignan

    HELP… Where can I get reviews / comparisons of Pro-Printers in the 5K-10K range? Thanks-in-advance!

  • JuliusNaranjo

    HELP:  Do you have any idea about 3d printers for academic institutions, for example for a University? I mean speciall prices?

    • http://www.lineshapespace.com/ LineShapeSpace

      JuliusNaranjo Hi Julius. Sorry for the delay. I somehow didn’t see your comment until now. I don’t, but I will look into it and see what I can find.

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  • http://emeraldcoaststeam.org Bonnk

    Good Afternoon,
      I see that you have offered a PDF of the 3D Infographic. Great ! Can we please get one, too. We are building a desk top fabrication room as a magnet for middle school ‘Odyssey of the Mind’ teams. We need these sort of things on our walls. You can view us at EmeraldcoastSTEAM.org. Thank you very much, Steve

    • http://www.lineshapespace.com/ LineShapeSpace

      BonnkHi Steve. I’d be happy to help with that! Please email me at lss@autodesk.com, and I’ll send it your way. Best, Kylee

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