The decision to integrate a 3D printer into a company’s workflow is a process that involves a multitude of decisions. Key metrics to consider in the decision process are things such as preparing a business plan, getting buy-in from other departments, determining who’s responsible for the equipment, and ultimately the choice of which 3D technology. Having personally gone through the “internal sell” I realize that it can take time and effort to generate the interest needed to accomplish your goal.
In my opinion, the factor that is the most closely scrutinized in the decision process is the 3D printers Return on Investment (ROI). From a business standpoint, this measurement of can be easily understood and it seems that a quick decision can be made based on it. This is, of course, if the ROI calculation is taking into account all the factors. You may say, I only do X number of prototypes per month and that doesn’t equal the cost of a new 3D printer. If that were the only factor then that may be logical, but there are other components like prototyping expenses, turnaround time, number of new products, time-to-market, and productivity that come into play that may affect your conclusion.
The first, and most obvious, is the cost of doing your prototyping and fixture development in-house versus outsourcing. Here’s a simple calculation:
Outsourcing – Cost of prototype/fixtures $2,000
In-house – Cost of prototype/fixtures $500
Cost savings – 75%
This is the calculation of the time it takes to receive a prototype/fixture once it is ordered. In reality this is not the total picture.
- From design completion to a design review, order approval and finally the order. Normally this chain of events can take 5 – 10 days.
- The service bureau turnaround time. 3 – 5 days
- Total 8 – 15 working days
- From design completion to prototype/fixture completion to design review – 1 – 2 days
Number of New Products
By bringing a 3D printer in-house, you also are opening up the opportunity for a number of new products that could potentially be brought to market sooner. Think of it as a one month additional gross profit for each new product that uses the 3D printer in the process.
There is a simple conversion you can use to estimate the reduction in time-to-market for your product. The reduced time can be as much as one day for every 20 to 30 days that are saved in the in-house prototyping scheme.
From a survey done by Stratasys, having an in-house 3D printer and raising the number of prototypes, vastly reduces the amount of design iterations. We talk about this specific benefit in another recent blog post. Conservatively, a 15% increase in prototype volume results in a 5% improvement in the design cycle.
To put an accurate number to your ROI is a service that your CAPINC Stratasys Experts can do for you and would be customized for your specific situation. We are always available to meet with you and determine your company’s unique Return on Investment benefit.