Woman looking at 3D printed item

5 key advantages of 3D printing for rapid prototyping

by Ryan Hess, Director, Innovation and Strategy, Additive Manufacturing


Discover the benefits of rapid prototyping and how 3D printing is redefining manufacturing.

Read time: 4 minutes

You’ll find them in your bathroom, closet, refrigerator … just about anywhere and everywhere. CPG (consumer packaged goods) are omnipresent, and we couldn't live without them – from kitchen faucets and personal care products to footwear, beverages, salty snacks, and everything in between.

The CPG industry is one of the largest sectors in North America, fueled by giants such as Procter & Gamble, Nestle, and The Coca-Cola Company.

CPGs use 3D printing for rapid prototyping, which can transform a concept into a concrete product people use daily and allow manufacturers to bring these products to market quickly and efficiently. This article dives into the world of 3D printing within manufacturing, the benefits, and how a 3D printing partner can help.

76% of CPGs use 3D printing for a host of reasons.¹

What is rapid prototyping?

For those unfamiliar with the process, rapid prototyping is a function of 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM). It plays a critical part in the production and distribution of CPGs. And, while the word “CPG” might refer to a variety of household products, the most crucial component of the manufacturing process that brings them to life — rapid prototyping — is very much the same, regardless of product type.

Manufacturers in this tremendously competitive sector need every advantage available to them. 3D printing — rapid prototyping in particular — allows for more competitive pricing, accelerated development cycles, greater flexibility in design and customization, and simplifies the supply chain by eliminating multi-level production planning. According to research, 68% of manufacturers utilizing 3D printing are using it for prototyping.²

Granted, the materials used in the process vary from polymers and composites to industrial metals. Choosing the right mix of technologies and materials to support specific rapid prototyping needs can be both a bit of an art and a science. It's critical to monitor the budget while also ensuring their form, fit, or finish requirements are being met.

Traditional PLA filament is often used to run off a quick sample, and more technically savvy programs make use of full-color photopolymer jetting, high-resolution liquid resin capabilities and sintered nylons for functional prototypes. While the requirements vary and the production process/post-processing burden can grow to be highly complex, the rapid prototyping process has many similarities, whether prototyping an engine part or an eyeliner brush.

Just how ubiquitous is 3D printing in manufacturing? According to one study, the global market for 3D printing should grow from $19.5 billion in 2021 to $56.1 billion by 2026 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.5% for 2021-2026.³

Need assistance with your 3D printing process?

Learn about our All-In 3D Print solution featuring trained onsite staffing and equipment, hardware, software, and supplies.

Ryan H (002).jpg
Ryan has been with Ricoh for more than 10 years and is on a mission to reach into Ricoh’s extensive advanced manufacturing heritage to find unique solutions that solve customers’ problems. Primarily focused on direct digital manufacturing, and an ardent proponent of the societal good that can come from additive manufacturing, Ryan’s entrepreneurial drive and customer focus bring concepts to commercialization for Ricoh.

Ryan Hess

Director, Innovation and Strategy, Additive Manufacturing

Ricoh USA

Recommended for you

A new era - direct digital manufacturing
A new era - direct digital manufacturingArticles

A new era - direct digital manufacturing

Mass customization via direct digital manufacturing, which includes additive manufacturing or 3D printing, has arrived.

Additive manufacturing in healthcare
Additive manufacturing in healthcareArticles

Additive manufacturing in healthcare

As an emerging technology, the potential to capitalize on the additive manufacturing market is high — particularly in the healthcare industry. Our experts discuss.

Tech partnerships help reshoring manufacturers
Tech partnerships help reshoring manufacturers Articles

Tech partnerships help reshoring manufacturers

As companies are reshoring manufacturing, here's how a tech partner can help with labor shortages, bridge skill gaps, and scale technology with ease.

  1. 1https://amfg.ai/2018/06/08/3d-printing-consumer-goods-industry-5-benefits
  2. 2https://www.outlookindia.com/business-spotlight/digital-transformation-and-industry-4-0-revolutionizing-manufacturing-news-337966
  3. 3https://www.bccresearch.com/market-research/manufacturing/3d-printing-market-report.html
  4. 4https://nexa3d.com/blog/3d-printing-products-reduce-waste