The design challenge is that often in order to improve one feature, another is impacted. Let me give you a hypothetical example: we might be striving to improve part accuracy, but doing so might slow the print speed. In order to make that decision, we have to understand how to measure the value of further improved part accuracy against reducing print speed to the end user. I would think about this problem in the same way we approach our own product development process where making a single change in a late stage of the process is far more costly than frequent changes in the early stages. Using 3D printing early and often can not only reduce the risk of late stage changes, but will often lead to better decision making and reduced overall cost of development programs. So feature set enhancements that allow for more iterations in the same amount of time and for the same cost are feature sets that add real value.
It doesn’t stop there though. In my example, having more models in the early design stage improves decision making by improving the way the design is communicated. Therefore feature set enhancements that improve the model as a means of communication also add significant value. It is well known that our color printers can be used to create life-like models. Consumer products can be modeled in the intended color combinations or with graphics printed right on the part. Often overlooked is the ability to label models with part and revision numbers or by color coding differences between on model and another, all with the intent to improve and speed up the decision making process.
My question this week is, do you agree with my assessment of value? What do you value in 3DP?
Related reading in Develop3D: http://develop3d.com/profiles/prints-charming