There are many products that are not suited for direct digital manufacturing for reasons such as having high production volumes or tough mechanical property requirements. But direct digital manufacturing (DDM) can help to reduce costs and time-to-market by producing tooling such as jigs, fixtures, gauges and assembly tools. The third in a series of excerpts from a white paper by Stratasys CEO Scott Crump entitled "Is Now the Time to Try Direct Digital Manufacturing?" goes into further detail on this subject.
When first introduced to DDM, the application most people envision is the production of finished goods. The word manufacturing conjures images of high-volume production of consumer products. People often jump to the definition ”the making of goods on a large scale,” even though manufacturing also means “the making or producing of anything.” DDM is suited for low-volume manufacturing – not mass production. But before you think, “We can’t use it because we do mass-production,” keep in mind every manufacturer has low-volume needs in the production of manufacturing tools, such as jigs, fixtures, gages and hand tools.
Producing manufacturing tools presents the ideal opportunity to try DDM. These tools are deployed to make manufacturing and assembly fast, efficient, repeatable and cost effective. In this manufacturing context, DDM becomes a low-risk, high-return alternative to standard practices. Because the tools are used by the company, not the customer, and the time and cost to produce them is small, an unsuccessful attempt has little consequence. But when successful, DDM has a major impact on productivity, quality and the cost of producing parts. Performing DDM of manufacturing tools is currently more popular than DDM for end-use parts. That’s partly because it’s such a low-risk opportunity, and partly because every manufacturer has a need for such tools.
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