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Metal 3D Printing for Machine Design: An Industry Perspective (.PDF Download)

March 9, 2022

Machine design involves the development, design, and production of machines. It is key to ensure machines run efficiently, produce consistent results, and can be easily repaired as components wear out or break.


For simplicity, speed, and most importantly cost, machine designers strive to use as many off-the-shelf components as possible. Invariably, though, some parts must be custom-made—and therein lies most of the challenge.

Due to the relatively small volumes needed, custom parts are typically CNC machined, a process that can be expensive and time-consuming, due to limited machine shop resources and nonrecurring engineering (NRE) time and costs. This NRE usually consists of the necessity to create custom work holding fixtures for machining of complex parts, even if parts are being produced in low volume, leading to significant waste and added part cost.

Machine design firms may also face challenges related to equipment that is already operating—as parts wear out or break, firms need to be able to quickly manufacture replacement parts to get the machine back up and running while keeping per-part costs low and avoiding warehousing costs.