Suppose we need parts made of plastic, so we order them from our contractor. He designs them, selects the manufacturing technology, produces the finished parts, performs the quality control checks, packs them and sends the shipment on its way. In the meantime, we’re waiting for it so we can get on with our work. How might the story of this shipment turn out? It might arrive on time, but then again – who knows? – it might be late. It might also get lost or damaged along the way. Your entire production process comes to a grinding halt because of the absence of a single part.
Now let's look at the alternative scenario. Our contractor designs a part, tests the prepared model and sends it as a file to a printing centre in a nearby town. The contractor may have many such authorised centres in different countries. It can also use independent 3D printers serving multiple clients. The printers are versatile and it takes only a little while to switch them from, for example, producing laptop cases to making external parts for cash registers.
The traditional method would require making a mould, preparing injection moulding machines and accessories. It’s impossible to do it quickly, cheaply and in multiple locations at the same time. 3D printing solves this problem. What's more, the differences between the cost of producing a single unit and a whole series of them are negligible. Thus, 3D printing can benefit not only the assem-bly shop, but also a service shop in need of a single replacement part.