Following the first step to encourage creative and innovative thinking—not just within IT department, but across the company, one way to unleash the creativity is to make investments.

FREMONT, CA: For industries like manufacturing, there is no question that 3D printing will topple how work gets done. But even for those industries where use cases are not palpable, the technology will likely have an effect. Consider real estate services; one can now 3D print a model of what the structure will look like on the plot of land.

So, how do CIOs build a 3D printing strategy to prepare their organizations and departments for another disruptive force? Following are a few tips on how one can get there.

Invest in Innovation

Following the first step to encourage creative and innovative thinking—not just within IT department, but across the company, one way to unleash the creativity is to make investments.

For under several ten thousand dollars, CIOs can purchase two types of 3D printers, stereolithography, and a material extrusion printer. Additionally, in the price range, one will also get a handheld 3D scanner, modeling software used to make a digital model from scratch, and an imaging device used to convert a three-dimensional object into a virtual design. Moreover, as the cost is low, many CIOs with control over an agreed capital budget will not have to endure an ROI analysis.

Upon the purchase, the equipment needs to be installed in a dedicated space, which is open to everyone. Along with encouraging the designers to use the innovation space, other workers such as people on the assembly line, should also be heartened. Letting them have access to the novelty space will give ideas that could conceivably change the service or product quite noticeably.

Influence What is Purchased

Most experts refer to 3D printing as a technique made up of seven printing technologies. So, if CIOs want to support the business’ 3D printing endeavors, they will need to understand how each of the seven technologies breaks down.

Material extrusion: One among the known seven technologies, the material extrusion functions more like a glue gun. A plastic filament is crammed into a nozzle that is later warmed. The nozzle is then moved horizontally and vertically, building the defined shape by superimposing one layer of polymer on others.

Stereolithography: The tool combines liquid polymer and a light source, usually a laser or a digital light processor, to coagulate the polymer. The technology’s outcome is a very delicately detailed piece, much more accurate than one can obtain from the material extrusion printers.

Binder jetting: The method uses the same core technology as an inkjet printer. The assembling materials are a combination of powder and a liquid adhesive to fabricate the 3D object. The existing commercially available ink is an HP ink with a special binder supplemented to it.

Material jetting: Unlike the powder used in binder jetting, material jetting uses plastic to make the 3D object that is then hardened by UV light. Similar to binder jetting, the tool uses the central technology as an inkjet printer.

Directed Energy Deposition: The technology involved in directed energy deposition is correlated to that of metal printing. It uses a jetted metal powder that is bound together by an energy source like a laser.

Powder Bed Fusion: Plastic, ceramic, metal, or glass powder is spread out in a thin layer, and a light source like an electron beam or a laser melts the powder in particular areas based on the design. The procedure is then repeated.

Sheet Lamination: Sheets of paper or metal are either bound together or welded with an adhesive. There are at present only two providers of sheet lamination, one which uses ultrasound technology to fuse the sheets of metal together and another that uses paper.

“What do they want,” is a most important question that businesses will need to have an answer for. Beginning with the end in mind will help steer institutions to the type of technology they will need and raise further questions. For instance, if the materials or technology turn out to be expensive, businesses may want to consider outsourcing their 3D printing strategy.

Prepare to support a complex infrastructure

If 3D printing technology is brought in-house, IT department will not own the device, but will still play a vital role. So, organizations are no longer at a phase where 3D printers are standalone devices attached to separate workstations but are going to be a set of connected network.
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