The fundamental advantage of 3D printing is that it enables the cost-effective production of models, prototypes, tooling, and production parts. Independent of design complexity, these items can be produced in hours or days rather than days or weeks. That advantage yields the benefits of expediting the product development process, expanding the scope of prototyping work, or streamlining production with more effective tooling.
Justifying a 3D printer has been, and continues to be, a topic of high interest because of the struggle to prove its worth in dollars and cents. There will be a time, in the not-so-distant future, when there is no longer a need to prove its value. A time when the question is no longer “does a purchase make sense” but instead, “how many do we need.” For now, the onus is to prove that the investment is worthwhile to those making financial decisions. Each company’s situation is different and there isn’t a single approach that works for all. Instead of a formulaic approach, the strategies and guidelines that have worked for others will help to get approval for purchase. The value of 3D printing is unquestionable.