Ok, so maybe not the kind of revolution the Beatles were talking about, but a revolution nonetheless. Revolutionary change tends to start gradually and then snowball. Although we’re still in the preliminary stages, a revolution is clearly underway in the manufacture of plastic parts.
Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM) is that revolution. Direct from 3D digital data, a component or part is manufactured layer-by-layer via an additive manufacturing machine, without machining, molding or casting.
DDM will not replace traditional manufacturing, at least not anytime soon, but it has been proven as a viable alternative to traditional manufacturing processes. In fact, it can be used to compliment traditional manufacturing to get product to market faster or quicken your low-volume pilot stages as a bridge-to-tooling.
The benefits of digital manufacturing parts goes beyond end-use production parts; following are three of the primary applications of DDM parts:
- Manufactured end-use, sell-able goods. The manufactured items are the components and sub-assemblies that go into the products that a company sells to its customers. These parts could be a bridge to tooling or the final solution as production part.
- Produce end-use items that are used by the manufacturer. Rather than making a company’s products, the process is used to manufacture devices that aid in the production of the sell-able products. These manufacturing tools include things like jigs, fixtures, gages, and guides.
- Create tooling for the molding, casting or forming of products. This application can be either the direct production of tooling, or the indirect creation of tooling from a pattern, which is constructed from an additive manufacturing technology.
What’s most interesting about the companies using DDM, is they’re not so much the large, well-established companies with big budgets, although they use it too. But DDM is more widely accepted by the start-ups where it’s critical to be innovative and get product to market fast, with minimal risk.
Direct digital manufacturing is a real solution. So before the competition eats you up — to borrow more words from John Lennon — "You better free your mind instead."
Read more about Direct Digital Manufacturing.