Study Compares Subtractive and Additive Approaches, Highlights Changing Market Demands.
The world of manufacturing is changing dramatically as advanced technologies continue to facilitate "better, faster and cheaper" product design and development processes. Roland DGA's white paper looks closely at various strategies and technologies embraced by market leaders today to advance their product design and manufacturing processes. It is available for downloading on the company's website at www.rolanddga.com/whitepaper.
"Two shifts in the world of manufacturing are changing the way products are designed and produced," said Elizabeth Goode, president of GoodeInk, a recognized industry expert and co-author of the white paper. "The first shift is on the economic front. Rising outsourcing costs are prompting companies to re-establish co-located project teams and migrate these resources back in house, closer to consumption. The second shift is caused by a growing field of individual entrepreneurs and small businesses entering the manufacturing industry, what is being called the 'new industrial revolution.' These organizations are set up for on-demand production, and are bringing new products to market faster than ever before. Together, these dynamics are fueling the demand for in-house design and manufacturing tools, and the technologies that best facilitate this transformation."
Building on this discussion, the white paper offers a comparison of the industry's most advanced additive and subtractive rapid prototyping technologies, detailing the benefits and limitations of each. While the market share for additive technologies has grown recently, the industry is also seeing a movement toward subtractive technologies, such as Roland's MDX series of benchtop CNC milling machines. Subtractive systems can provide a complementary solution to additive systems in several key areas, providing superior ease of use, greater material flexibility, higher dimensional accuracy, smoother surface finishes, and more accurate simulation of actual manufacturing processes.
"Through subtractive rapid prototyping, companies can quickly and easily confirm the form, fit and functionality of their product designs and perfect them before manufacturing begins," said Andrew Oransky, director of marketing and product management for Roland. "So, having a highly flexible, precise prototyping solution can be a significant competitive advantage."
The white paper also looks at the business of Questa Design Ltd., a design, engineering and manufacturing firm located in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. Questa uses the Roland MDX 3-D milling machine to create prototypes and parts, ranging from scientific instrumentation to heat sinks and broadcast video assemblies, for clients across the medical, broadcast, automotive and consumer electronics industries.
In particular, Questa officials cite the versatility of the MDX as one of its most important capabilities, stating that no other rapid prototyping process allows them to use such a wide variety of production materials, including ABS, polypropylene and aluminum.
According to Aki Hirano, vice president of Questa, "For our firm, rapid prototyping is really rapid manufacturing (RM) or digital product manufacturing (DPM), since our clients expect the prototype to function exactly as the finished product would."
"That is the goal for today's manufacturers," Goode said. "It is no longer enough for a prototype to just simulate the manufactured product. Very often, only an exact match will do, and the technologies that achieve this level of precision will thrive in the future."
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