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3D printers can decrease production time and costs and allow testing of new product designs. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have used 3D printing technology to create fish tags.

In an infographic to highlight the benefits of conventional manufacturing vs 3D printing (also known as additive manufacturing), CSIRO showed how real savings can be achieved through the use of the latter technology. Additive manufacturing is used in a number of industries including aerospace engineering and medical technology.

This is due to the difference in cost in the prototype, testing and production stages. The design stage is the same for both formats, however multiple designs can be chosen and tested using 3D technology, whereas due to the cost of manufacturing only one design is chosen with conventional manufacturing methods.

Testing is also a more streamlined process as simultaneous examination of the prototypes can be carried out. A white paper for Stratasys, a 3D printing company, explained that the increase in prototype testing results in fewer manufacturing errors. 3D printing also provides greater confidentiality as designs stay in-house.

In 2012, CSIRO established the Arcam additive manufacturing facility. It is the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. The aim of the facility is to provide industries with access to technology that enables 3D printing of metals.

3D scanners can also help increase productivity by automating the design process, creating better results in a short timeframe. 3D scanners can be used to create CAD models from parts or products that you would like to replicate and scan entire buildings to create 3D models.

Chris Anderson, former editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, compares the opportunities 3D printers present as similar to desktop publishing. The ability for businesses to create designs on their desktop or mobile devices and create professional publications with a push of a button is similar to creating designs for manufacturing products, Mr Anderson says.

CompNow have a range of traditional printing products and support, as well as embracing new 3D printer technology.