Everyone these days has heard about 3D Printing. What was once a curiosity to most has now become pretty much mainstream. Heck, we even see 3D printers being used on primetime TV sitcoms. But with all of this exposure there are still those who do not feel that 3D printing is something that can be an important and productive part of their business.
3d printing technology is not just cool; it is an exciting technology that has real advantages in real business applications. So if this is true, why won’t your boss buy one for your company? As with any additional asset that a company is looking to add, there is usually a champion that leads the charge. That person will need to be prepared to answer questions from management that will convince them that 3D printing is right for them.
First order of business is – get your ducks in a row. There is nothing like a well thought out case to improve your chances of getting what you want.
Consider the following outline:
Prepare a basic business plan that has an executive summary which will clearly state the business benefits. This will make it easy for management to understand the big picture and also show that you have completely thought your case through.
Keep it in the short term. Long term plans are great but it is easier to visualize near term benefits because the situation is happening now. Assess your current situation and focus on details that are on people’s minds now.
Identify specific cost savings. Using hard numbers are essential in showing how a 3D Printer will help your business. You will find that the savings are most likely to show up in time to market and labor costs more than the cost saving in material although that is a good one too. Show a timeline with your current process and one that utilizes a 3D Printer. Even if you currently use an external service to make your prototypes, having a system in house allows you to identify design flaws on an ongoing basis as opposed to waiting until a design review where the flaws may be compounded.
Use support from other departments in the company. In a manufacturing environment, it is very common for departments to have their own budgets. If you are in a design group the savings in time may be sufficient for justification but in many cases the successful champion will incorporate the cost and time savings from other departments such as manufacturing, R&D and marketing. Again this will show that you are interested in the entire company benefiting from a 3D printer.
Who will be responsible for the day to day operation? This is a very import point. There will need to be one person that will oversee the day to day operation and scheduling. This does not have to be someone dedicated only to the system but a go to guy that understands the system’s capability and becomes efficient at setup and maintenance.
Investigate if or how your competition is using 3D printing. Or as an alternative, show how similar companies are benefiting with some anecdotal information from articles in trade journals.
Don’t forget the short term tax benefits. Become familiar with Section 179 of the American Taxpayers Relief Act. Management may have a need to take advantage of the current tax benefits as it pertains to capital equipment purchases in the coming year.
Be informed on the types of 3D printing technology available. Not all 3D Printers are great for all applications. Some systems provide material options that have favorable mechanical and thermal properties while others give spectacular details. Use a matrix or spread sheet to keep the details straight. Get representative samples of each technology to see how your product may look when made on a 3D printer.
This sounds like a lot of work!! Well it is involved, but if you are expecting management to invest part of their capitol expense budget it is best to have all the information available in an easy to understand presentation.
This outline should give you a good starting point to approach the subject. CAPINC has the tools that can easily provide a ROI for you to share with your manager, and we’re here to help prepare your “business plan” with you if needed.
Good luck, it’s well worth the effort!