Metal 3-D Printing – The Future of Manufacturing?
As a young technology 3-D printers are expensive. However they are constantly becoming more and more affordable, making them much more accessible for smaller projects, sole traders and SMEs. Whilst the speed of the printers and limitations of their output has only made them suitable for rapid prototyping in the past; the technology is improving and becoming suitable for fabricating a wider range of possibilities.
Metal 3D Printing
Whilst plastic printing is now at a stage where it can be used for commercial purposes, metal printing is still due some advancements before it reaches the same level. However with industry giants including HP, Nike and GE on board it looks like those advancements will happen sooner rather than later.
Where is it currently at?
The performance of 3D metal printers has already gained huge momentum and in a relatively short space of time has increased in speed, ease of use and performance. It’s already producing sophisticated, quality metal alloys and has the potential to create complex results which couldn’t be achieved with standard manufacturing processes.
SMEs and Sole Traders
As 3-D printing technology progresses and costs reduce, it will open up more opportunities for smaller companies to offer fast turnaround on unique bespoke parts and items. Engineering companies can design, test and build components in house and people who want to turn a passion into a business such as jewellery makers or toy designers, could have a very quick way of fabricating their own designs themselves.
Technology like 3-D printers are a big investment for a small company and equipment down time could cause the business to grind to a halt if it is reliant on a 3-D printer. So ensuring the printer is adequately covered and the business has appropriate business interruption cover if something unexpected happens is vital. Designing and fabricating your own designs and parts brings another level of liability should someone be injured or suffer material or financial loss due to using something you have designed. Therefore your business insurance should reflect these risks to your business.
If you would like to start a conversation with us about your business insurance needs please phone us on 01480 433443. We would love to work with you to help you understand the likely risks to your business and the insurance options available.