Over the last decade, 3D printing has gone from science fiction to reality. Once the promises of 3D printing—machines that could print on-demand physical pieces and products—appeared too good to be true. However, now that technology has sufficiently advanced, a 3D printer can be purchased for home use. Even websites offer digital object design databases for users to download and print.
Once the full promise of 3D printing is fulfilled, it will be a technology with the power to update the way we think about making everyday products. In a very long time, manufacturing hasn't seen technology as potentially exciting or disruptive as 3D printing. Below are just some of the ways 3D printing will revolutionize the manufacturing world over the next decades.
Many claims about the benefits 3D printing could bring to our manufacturing industries. One of these is the idea that 3D printing is a much more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to product manufacturing than traditional methods. While 3D printers, as they currently exist, work largely with plastics to produce products, they can use plastics much more efficiently than conventional manufacturing methods. This significantly reduces the plastic volume required for each 3D printed component.
Most traditional manufacturing methods are subtractive. This means that the machines involved work to reduce the size of a material until it is crafted in the desired shape. 3D printing, however, uses additive manufacturing. This means that a piece is added layer after layer until it is complete, ensuring the process uses only as much material as required and nothing more.
Prototyping is a vital component of product development. Designing, building and testing prototypes enable businesses to identify and address any weaknesses in their designs long before their products hit the shelves and get into the hands of consumers. Finding more efficient ways to design and develop prototypes for products will enable companies to refine their prototypes to a greater degree than previously possible at a fraction of the price.
Most prototypes begin life as simple sketches on paper, but eventually evolve into physical representations of final product design. Without 3D printing, businesses are forced to choose the best manufacturing method to use to produce prototypes to the specifications they need.
By using 3D pring services to produce prototypes, businesses can use this revolutionary manufacturing method. For example, these Rapid Direct 3D printing services allow businesses to produce product prototypes from various materials, including PLA, ABS, and Nylon. They also offer various finishes depending on your needs, such as painting, polishing, and powder coating.
When using traditional manufacturing methods, manufacturers will produce as much as they are expected to sell. Many products today require multiple supply chains to come together to supply all required components for a product. However, using 3D printing, one manufacturer can produce products on demand.