Maximize Cost Savings with Additive Manufacturing

| The Essentium Team


Maximize Cost Savings With Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing (AM) makes businesses more agile as they can quickly respond to changing market demands. AM makes businesses more independent, as they are less reliant on third-party vendors and insulated from supply chain disruptions. It also gives businesses a competitive edge by enabling a first-to-market position to capture revenues from early adopters. On top of all of these benefits, one of the biggest perks of using AM is the cost savings.

The article discusses how  you can maximize cost savings with Additive Manufacturing  and High Speed Extrusion (HSE) technology and contribute to your business’ bottom line, and how Essentium used it to 3D print mask frames at the onset on the COVID-19 pandemic.

It Takes Time and Money to Make Money

Traditional subtractive manufacturing methods are driven by expensive CNC machines and injection molding (IM) machines, both of which require tools to be designed, iterated, manufactured, and shipped. This process can take months, even with the best suppliers on the planet. Once the tools are complete, the machines need to be fitted and tested on the assembly line. Then, the molds must be stored for future use and inventories of raw materials in infinite shapes and sizes need to be sourced and stocked.

AM, on the other hand, condenses the long lead times and lowers many of the hard and soft costs associated with traditional manufacturing processes. For example, AM eliminates mold or tool storage costs and shipping, installation, as well as retooling expenses required by CNC/IM machines. Overhead expenses can be reduced as parts inventories occupy digital memory instead of physical warehouse space.

With Additive Manufacturing, there are no idle production lines or workers while retooling equipment for a new design or product, operators simply upload the proper file and press Print. Raw materials consist of compact spools of filament that can be 3D extruded into any shape imaginable.

AM not only offers cost saving advantages when it comes to operating expenses (OpEx), but to capital expenses (CapEx) as well.

Minimize OpEx and CapEx with Essentium HSE

Operating expenses (OpEx) are items such as labor, repairs, power, and raw materials – things needed to keep production lines moving. There are typically lots of moving parts in CNC machines and IM equipment. They occupy a lot of space and require multiple highly skilled operators to maintain peak performance and effect repairs. How does Essentium’s HSE 3D Printing Platform lower OpEx?

  1. Built to operate like a robot, not a printer. Essentium HSE 3D Printers have minimal moving parts, minimizing repair expenses.
  2. Small footprint and ease of use minimizes space and labor. A single operator can oversee the performance of an entire fleet of Essentium HSE 3D Printers in a smaller manufacturing environment.
  3. Less waste. Essentium HSE 3D Printers use 100% of the filament fed into the machine instead of milling, boring, or grinding away chunks of expensive raw materials.
  4. Increased versatility. Print something different every day with zero downtime from retooling.

Capital expenses (CapEx) are the fixed assets needed to produce the product – the cost of the actual equipment, and the costs of tool creation and storage. This is where AM shines. How does Essentium’s HSE 3D Printing Platform lower CapEx?

  1. Lower hardware costs. The price to purchase and set up an IM production line can run into the millions of dollars. Essentium HSE 3D Printers are a fraction of the cost.
  2. Eliminates tool creation and storage expenses. Essentium HSE 3D Printers allow manufacturers to directly manufacture needed parts with speed and agility and without extensive CapEx costs. There are no molds, no tools, no material inventories, or mold storage costs.

When looking at the cost savings that high speed extrusion can provide, it is important to include both operational and capital expenses. For every tool created using traditional methods, manufacturers pay to produce the mold, pay to create the tool, and pay to store the mold after use. When factory managers consider both OpEx and CapEx, that is when AM really starts to move the cost curve versus traditional manufacturing.

Essentium Manufactures PPE at Minimal Expense

Use traditional or additive manufacturing? This was the choice Essentium faced when asked by the Texas governor’s COVID-19 strike force to help tackle the PPE shortage at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At first, Essentium considered purchasing injection molds and set up off-site production. Initial estimations promised to get Essentium’s mask mold from prototype to production in two weeks, but because of COVID-19, the tools were quoted a seven-week lead time. With mask shortages growing more critical day by day, nearly two months of waiting was not an option.

Instead, Essentium used a fleet of 10 HSE 180•ST 3D Printers to 3D print more than 25,000 masks in-house in 90 days. Rather than incurring capital expenses of purchasing and installing a new IM production line complete with molds and tools, Essentium was able to pivot internally. In addition, instead of bringing in new personnel with different skills and source new raw materials, Essentium was able to use existing machines, labor, and materials, reducing operating expenses.

Having Essentium HSE 3D Printers and industrial-grade materials ready to go made it possible to create the first mask prototype in eight hours, quickly iterate through 25 designs and different materials, and land on a final design after only 36 hours. AM provides the kind of agility that positions companies for success.

But reducing OpEx and CapEx is just one part of the answer. Get the whole story on Essentium’s mask initiative in our white paper, Bridging the Hybrid Era of Additive Manufacturing, and contact us at to learn how the Essentium HSE 3D Printing Platform can be a source of savings on your factory floor.


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