As the benefits become more and more prominent, 3D printing becomes more of a big deal. Technology has advanced and prices drop as machines become more widely offered. It may be time to clear out an extra space in your office for a machine that can generate what you wish on your demand.
What is 3D printing actually useful for? Find out in the following article.
3D printing does not refer to the printing, per se. Rather, it is a combination of technologies that ultimately produce a three-dimensional object. Before any actual printing can take place, computer-aided design (CAD) software must be used to specify the size and details of what is to be printed. That software produces instructions that the 3D printer uses to then make the object come to life, putting layer after layer of material on top of each other to formulate what the directions have instructed it to.
Although 3D printing seems like a relatively recent thing, the first rapid prototyping machine was actually used commercially in the late 1980s. Until now, they are still being used in commercial production shops. The first advantage that was recognized was the decrease in time that it took to manufacture plastic prototypes in shop. However, we now recognize that a huge benefit is that these machines are used for additive manufacturing – instead of carving away at resources, you can build it up and produce less waste.
With the development of this technology, 3D printing is able to bring to life structures that were previously impossible – or at least very challenging – to produce. Airbus, for instance, is able to manufacture lighter parts for planes while still maintaining strength and structural integrity. Individuals missing a limb or two can also utilize 3D printing by being able to get custom prosthetics that fit better at a cheaper price.
A huge perk of 3D printing is the fact that less resources are wasted. Conventional manufacturing often results in up to 90% of raw material being left behind. However, additive manufacturing builds up from the bottom, and even is able to reuse leftover bits. Companies also take advantage of the “just-in-time” capability that 3D printers are able to provide. Rather than stocking up on huge amounts of inventory, they can simply produce a part that they need right in the shop.
Recycling enthusiasts will rejoice at the 3D printer’s ability to reuse materials. If you break or no longer want an object you have printed, you can just reuse the material to build another one.
The main expenditures of 3D printing is the machine and the materials. There are 3D printers that are able to build objects out of plastic, glass, wood, food, and even cells. However, a cheaper basic one may only be able to build from plastic.
Mass manufacturers are sure to suffer a huge blow as soon as 3D printers start entering the homes of everyday people. As it becomes easier and easier to simply produce things yourself at home, the industry will be compelled to make major updates to their business models.