3D printing is also referred to as additive manufacturing. This technology involves the creation of three-dimensional objects, layer by layer, through the aid of a computer-created design. It’s called an additive process because layers of materials are piled to come up with a 3D part. With 3D printing, you can develop practically anything, as long as you have the plan for it.
Applications Of 3D Printing
3D printing has got a wide application in the manufacturing, healthcare, and engineering industries. The following fields are most notable for their use of 3D printing:
- Automobiles: You can use 3D printing in rapid prototyping to lower design times for new car models.
- Jewelry: The jewelry industry is leveraging 3D printing services to create pieces out of wax or resin. Designers could then edit these models, which would make jewelry prototyping convenient and cheap.
- Aerospace: The aerospace industry is using 3D printing to minimize the weight of components used in aircraft. The lower the weight of an aircraft, the better it affects the aircraft’s fuel consumption, payload, emissions, safety, and aerodynamics.
- Footwear: With 3D printing, the sports footwear industry can produce customized shoes. Big brands like Adidas and Nike use additive manufacturing to produce custom midsoles in large quantities, which would bring down production costs and times.
- Audiology: 3D printing is changing the audiology space with hearing professionals and earmold labs using additive manufacturing to produce large numbers of customized ear commodities, such as protective plugs, hearing aids, and earphones.
- Medicine: Before a patient undergoes surgery, you can scan them to produce customized 3D anatomical models for planning and executing their surgery. This technology has made impossible surgeries come true. Similarly, 3D printing has also made prosthetic legs and arms easily available to those who need them,
With that in mind, here are some ways 3D printing is important to your business:
3D printing offers manufacturers the advantage of rapid prototyping. With rapid prototyping, you can design, manufacture, and test products in the shortest time possible. Moreover, if a change is needed, it can be done without causing major effects on the speed of the manufacturing process.
Using the 3D printing environment, you can design a product, create it on a professional 3D printer, and be able to test it in a matter of days. Furthermore, 3D technology avails a platform that can produce any commodity without the requirement for cumbersome machinery in warehouses.
One disadvantage of the low cost and increased speed of 3D printing is that it reduces the life cycle of products. On the bright side, you can continually enhance and improve your products to create better ones in a short time.
Once you’ve designed a product, 3D printing enables you to physically demonstrate it to your investors and customers instead of dealing with mental imaginations. As a result, you avoid the risk of being misunderstood or your information being lost during the demonstration.
Moreover, you can enjoy cost-effective marketing, whereby you can get feedback from your customers and investors almost immediately. This ensures that the bulk of costs will only be incurred in production and not during prototyping.
The methods used before 3D printing became widespread had the propensity of producing poor designs, which resulted in low-quality prototypes. Because of the procedural nature of 3D printing where products are assembled step by step, you’re guaranteed good designs and quality products/parts down the line. As such, where problems are detected in the process of layering, you can easily rectify them. On the other hand, if all parts were added together at the same time, it’d be impossible to know where an error came from. This means you’ll find it challenging to improve the quality of the product.
Traditional manufacturing procedures have the possibility of producing some defective products in an otherwise passable batch. This results in unwanted inconsistency on the produced parts, which means your production schedule is affected. This would also entail you’ll have to invest more in quality assurance so you don’t accidentally release anything substandard.
However, with 3D printing, the product components are printed in succession. Thus, you can monitor each part and detect errors in real time, decrease the number of failed parts, and avoid excessive material waste. In the long run, the step-by-step process ensures consistency in the final products.
3D printing is generally regarded as the most cost-effective process of manufacturing when it comes to small productions. On the contrary, former prototyping procedures like injection molding and CNC machining demand costly machines and expensive labor costs of highly experienced operators and technicians.
With 3D printing, you may only require one or two machines with a bunch of operators to produce a part. Moreover, there’s little wastage of materials as the product is manufactured from the ground up and you won’t have to produce something from a solid mass like in subtractive manufacturing.
The thoroughness involved in ensuring consistency and quality lowers production risks with 3D printing. Thus, you can identify potential risks in your product prototypes before embarking on mass manufacturing.
Manufacturing is a very expensive process in business. As a result, you should carefully design your products before you give the green light for production. And the most effective way to create a consistent design is by creating a prototype of your product before mass production. Regardless of whether you have a small business or a large enterprise, 3D printing can help you cost effectively manufacture quality products with minimal risks involved.