3D printing has come a long way since it was first devised in the 1980s. While this technology was initially developed for rapid prototyping, it is now being used in a wide variety of industries. The applications of 3D printing are already popular in the automotive, apparel, sensors, medical, and even the spacecraft sectors. More and more companies are adopting and finding ways to incorporate new opportunities and business models with this technology.
3D Printing Introduction
3D printing, also referred to as additive manufacturing, is an innovative technology for creating three dimensional solid objects from a digital model. When it was first invented for rapid prototyping, it enabled many companies to quickly develop prototypes to precise specifications. But now, it’s finally catching up to its full potential with its uses growing more diverse as each year passes.
It’s a great technology for creating specific parts and tools for certain industries, such as the medical and the automotive sector. Furthermore, spacecraft parts are now easier to manufacture with space industry 3D printing technology.
Benefits of Using 3D Printing Technology
Some of the most notable benefits of 3D printing technology include the following.
3D printing allows for faster and more accurate design, production, and testing of prototypes than conventional printing methods. And, the more time you save means more time you get to iterate the prototype and find the right product-to-market match before your competitors do. 3D printing production only takes hours, whereas conventional methods can take several days or even weeks. Using a 3D printer with an advanced servo drive can even give you better performance.
Conventional prototyping methods require a lot of human labor in each stage, from the production runs to injection molding, which is quite costly. Aside from that, you also need experienced machine technicians and operators. With 3D printing, on the other hand, you only need at least one person issuing a print command.
Traditional prototyping methods are not as accurate as 3D printing, so they often result in poor or substandard quality. 3D printing technology, on the other hand, involves a step-by-step construction of an object. With the level of accuracy this technology provides, you can create better-quality objects.
Customization and creative design freedom
3D printing is more flexible when it comes to designing and customizing objects. Personalization can be achieved by simply making changes to the design file.
3D printing does not use a lot of resources, so it doesn’t produce much waste. In fact, it only uses the materials needed to print a prototype part, making it a more eco-friendly option.
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Here are some common industrial applications of 3D printing.
One of the many applications of 3D printing is in the car manufacturing industry. In fact, it’s not a new concept in this industry. For many years now, car manufacturers have been using this technology to print tools, spare parts, jigs, fixtures, and end-use parts. This has allowed on-demand manufacturing, which helped lower stock levels, and has significantly shortened automotive design and production cycles.
Car enthusiasts all over the world also use this technology to print discontinued parts to restore old cars. They also do it to print prototypes of parts they use to upgrade their cars.
Soft sensors and actuators industry
Conventional soft sensors and actuators manufacturing processes normally consist of multi-step, low yield procedures that entail post-process assembly, lengthy iterations, and manual fabrication. They’re also not very flexible in terms of reproducibility and customization.
3D printing was a game-changer in this industry. It was able to automate the time-consuming and tedious aspects of the fabrication process with its innovative functionalities.
Spacecraft and satellites have long been dependent on new and advanced technologies. Speed and efficiency are essential factors when developing and manufacturing prototypes in this industry. 3D printing is opening new manufacturing and design opportunities even for the most complex and relevant parts. Even the strictest requirement can be met with unbelievable accuracy.
Additionally, additive manufacturing allows the use of custom materials, like copper alloys, which are expensive and difficult when conventionally processed. So, 3D-printed spacecraft parts are now cost-efficient to produce.
Would you believe that 3D printing is also being used in the world of fashion? Dress, bikinis, and shoes are just some of the things being 3D-printed. In fact, big names, like Nike and New Balance, are already using this technology to print shoes for athletes. Even high fashion courtiers, like Karl Lagerfeld, have also used 3D printing when designing for brands, like Iris van Herpen, Chanel, and Noa Raviv.
Conventional manufacturing techniques are slow, rigid, and repetitive—not to mention that they’re expensive too! And with all the resources wasted, it’s also not good for the environment.
3D printing allows you to turn a concept into reality without the many difficulties and challenges associated with traditional manufacturing. Products are built faster at a more affordable cost. Without a doubt, this technology will continue to transform every industry for the better in the future.
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