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Contract Manufacturing and 3D Printing


Have you ever thought about using 3D printing for contract manufacturing? Additive manufacturing can be the most efficient way to mass-produce your parts. From 1 to 10,000 units, this digital manufacturing technology can help you rethink your production by adding more freedom and flexibility without sacrificing quality.

We will guide you through all the possibilities and benefits offered by 3D printing for contract manufacturing. This will help you find a way to optimize your manufacturing process and bring your business to the next level. And if you don’t know where to start with 3D printing, we will give all our advice to take your first steps and start using additive manufacturing in the best way possible for your business.

What is contract manufacturing?

Contract manufacturing is basically a manufacturer that contracts with a firm to produce components or finished products. Companies are choosing to outsource manufacturing to reduce cost, benefit from the expertise and advanced skills of manufacturers, and get the quality control they expect for their products. These companies will be manufacturing the product for you.

Contract manufacturing is a cost-saving technique, this way you don’t have to invest in facilities, advanced equipment, to production staff. Contract manufacturing offers the opportunity to finally access perfectly scaled production! Indeed, manufacturers are used to changing batch sizes, while maintaining high quality and efficiency. They are mastering their technologies, methodologies, and are specialists when it comes to scaling up a production! Many manufacturing companies are also using lean manufacturing.

All kinds of industries are using this process, from aerospace, food manufacturing, medical, energy, etc. Most of the time, these contract manufacturers are using traditional manufacturing methods such as CNC machining or injection molding. There are actually numerous types of manufacturing techniques: the first step is to understand the needs of your company and of your products. Maybe aa flexible and reliable technology such as 3D printing could better meet your requirements?

Is it possible to use 3D printing for contract manufacturing?

Manufacturing methods are evolving and additive manufacturing is now a real alternative to traditional methods. 3D printing is actually creating new business models, redefining the relationship between design and manufacturing, offering complete freedom from traditional constraints, and pushing the boundaries of manufacturing. Freedom of design, form, and quantity is now naturally part of the manufacturing process.

One of the main differences between additive manufacturing and traditional manufacturing techniques is that while using 3D printing, you have the opportunity to make the most of on-demand manufacturing. 

If additive manufacturing is known for its great prototyping capabilities, offering great lead times, and a fully optimized process, it is now a great ally for your whole manufacturing process. With no limits for quantity, additive manufacturing offers the flexibility and the quality your business needs to manufacture your components or final product. 

As you can see in the table below, additive manufacturing has the capability to manufacture at a large scale, offering great product quality. 

TechnologyMaterials availableApprox. Quantity
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)100 – 200 000+
HP Jet Fusion100 – 200 000+
FDM 1 – 200
SLA1 – 1 000
CLIP/DLS1 – 200
DMLS/SLM1 – 1 000

What sectors are already using additive manufacturing?

Sectors such as aeronautics, fashion, or automotive are already using 3D printing in their production process. Don’t wait for your competitors to use it first, be at the forefront of innovation and start to see how you can use Additive Manufacturing today! Let’s see a little bit more in detail what additive manufacturing can do for all of these industries.

Manufacturing spare parts using 3D printing is becoming a reality in the automotive sector, especially with the development of high-performance materials for 3D printing. Improvement of the design of some parts can also improve the efficiency of a whole vehicle, by optimizing structures and weight. Mass-producing these parts is now possible with additive manufacturing! 

3D printing can totally be used to create finished eyewear. It even represents a great advantage for mass-customization. Thanks to the colors and finishings available, eyewear companies are using this technology to create custom eyewear, using Selective Laser Sintering, for example.

Additive manufacturing is more and more used in the medical sectors, and its future seems quite promising. Indeed, it can be used for the medical sector to create custom made prosthesis, but also to create adapted medical devices and tools at scale! 

3D printing can also benefit electronic products, drones, robotics, and casings. The creation of made to measure and intricate cases for electronic components, with integrated assembly, is becoming more and more common. Additive manufacturing can also be used for drones or robots also need demanding design, made-to-measure structures, etc. 

But, what are the advantages of using additive manufacturing for contract manufacturing?

Many businesses are already using 3D printing, but how can it benefit your business? At Sculpteo, we will work with you at every stage of your project to ensure the best service and obtain the best result possible.

  • Cost savings

Optimizing your processes, from prototyping to production, can help you save time and money. What if your ideas were developed faster and your iterations without design limitations? While using 3D printing you are free to print just a few parts, or only one! The exact amount of raw material needed for your project will be used, no waste, and no extra costs.

  • Optimize your supply-chain

3D printing has a big role to play in the optimization of a supply chain and could push you at the forefront of innovation. Additive manufacturing is offering new opportunities, like inventory dematerialization. 

You might not think about it, but 3D printing can actually change a lot of things in your supply chain management. No more busy warehouse or any risks related to inventory (shortage, inventory destruction due to accident or natural catastrophe, etc.), dematerialization could be the perfect solution to rethink your whole manufacturing process and reduce tooling investment. You could use this dematerialized inventory for your product or just for your spare-parts, depending on what is best for your business!

You certainly know it, customization is an expensive process and sometimes impossible to manufacture with traditional manufacturing techniques such as injection molding or CNC machining. With 3D printing, modifying a 3D model in order to print several iterations of it is the easiest thing! You don’t have to create a mold and stick to it, you are free to adapt your parts. The flexibility offered by additive manufacturing in terms of designs and volumes is allowing easy customization.

  • Get a competitive advantage

Additive manufacturing is representing a real competitive advantage in a lot of sectors. This cutting-edge technology is speeding up the whole process and adding flexibility, which represents a real competitive advantage. Moreover, if your competitors are starting to use it and are ahead of your business in terms of implementation, you should start to worry about your competitiveness. 

How to find the right partner for contract manufacturing

At Sculpteo, we know that implementing 3D printing in an existing process is not that easy. Moreover, industrial 3D printers are expensive and require experienced operators to get quality parts. Sculpteo’s 3D printing service specializes in industrial Additive Manufacturing to scale your production.

In just a few clicks, you can benefit from a professional service, more than 75 raw materials and finishes, professional analysis tools, and free automatic quotations to help you speed up your processes! Working with customers from all industries, Sculpteo perfectly knows how to meet industry requirements. 

We are also offering consulting and design services with our 3D printing experts from Sculpteo Studio. Thanks to their advice and their expertise, implementing additive manufacturing will be easy and smart.

How can we help you scale up your production?

Do you already have your 3D file? Order your 3D printed parts in just a few clicks by uploading your 3D model on our website. 

Or maybe you understand the potential of 3D printing and would like to implement this cutting-edge manufacturing technique inside your production, but you don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, our personalized consulting services will help you to figure this out, identifying all your opportunities. Our multidisciplinary team, made of both designers and engineers, will listen and support you in all of your additive manufacturing projects. Sculpteo’s expertise is at your disposal in order to help you make the most of 3D printing for contract manufacturing.

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