It’s no secret that digital printing technology is changing the manufacturing industry. But for manufacturers that want to incorporate 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, the steepness of the learning curve complicates the process of making an informed investment. For smaller manufacturers, the challenge is even more acute.
Addressing that challenge is at the heart of a recent engineering analysis conducted by experts at Missouri University of Science and Technology on behalf of Masterclock, a manufacturer of precise timing systems equipment based in St. Charles, Missouri. Masterclock has 25 employees.
Dr. Richard Billo, director of the Kummer Center for Advanced Manufacturing at Missouri S&T, led the analysis. Assuming current market conditions, it found that the cost of equipment required to 3D print the casements that house the display clocks Masterclock manufactures outweighs the potential savings.
“We knew that 3D printing is definitely changing the manufacturing game,” says John Clark, Masterclock president and CEO. “But as a small business without an enormous R&D budget, without being knowledgeable about the market, we weren’t in a position to make huge bets on the equipment.”
Thanks to insight gleaned from S&T’s analysis, he doesn’t have to.
“I got a world-class, real-time review of how what’s on the market lines up with what we’d like to do at Masterclock,” says Clark. “I no longer have that voice in the back of my head, wondering if I’m missing out on the right investment.”
Billo says the work his team did with Masterclock is an example of S&T’s commitment to collaborating with manufacturers across Missouri to help them be more innovative and competitive in the global marketplace. That commitment is about to get a lot more tangible.
In October, S&T will break ground for the Missouri Protoplex, an advanced manufacturing research and development facility