Last Updated on March 18, 2021 by Filip Poutintsev
A lot of businesses have adopted 3D printing. Others have plans to incorporate technology and replace conventional subtractive development methods. As a matter of fact, recent research shows that 3D printing has now been embraced by over 70 per cent of producers.
Moreover, more than 50 per cent expect 3D printing technology to be used for high-volume product production, and approximately 22 per cent predict that its impact on supply chains will become even more disruptive.
Between 2014 and 2020, a 2015 report by Wohler’s Associates, a leading 3D printing analyst firm, estimated an annual 31 per cent growth in the 3D printing industry. The 3D print industry created approximately $4 billion in global revenue in 2014.
According to Wohler’s yearly survey, over 275,000 3D printers were sold worldwide in 2016. Projected growth suggests that 3D printing would potentially produce revenue of more than $21 billion around the world.
Using 3D printing technology can offer various advantages for both individuals and organizations alike. Here are some significant benefits offered by 3D printing technology:
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Benefits of 3D Printing
Traditional methods of production can easily lead to poor designs and thus, prototypes of poor quality. Imagine a situation whereby adding all the ingredients together, mixing them up and placing them in the oven to cook, someone wants to bake a cake.
The cake would have problems such as air bubbles or a failure to cook thoroughly if the ingredients have not blended well. That’s how often subtractive or injection moulds can be.
100 per cent of the time, you are not assured of quality. 3D printing enables the object to be assembled step-by-step, which guarantees improved designs and potentially higher quality objects.
3D printing is the most cost-effective method of production for short production runs and apps. Traditional methods of prototyping such as CNC machining and injection moulding need a large number of costly machines, plus they have much higher labour costs as skilled machine operators and technicians are required to operate them.
This contrasts with the 3D printing process, where the development of a component requires just 1 or 2 machines and fewer operators (depending on the system). Since the component is made from the ground up, not cut out of a solid block like it is in subtractive processing and typically does not require additional equipment, there is much less waste material.
As the amount of material waste used is minimized by this technology, this process is inherently environmentally friendly. However, when you consider factors such as increased fuel efficiency by using lightweight 3D printed components, the environmental advantages are expanded.
3D printing, including injection moulds and subtractive manufacturing, is faster than traditional production. Think of a sports car’s speed versus a horse cart’s speed. They will both reach their destination, but the time gap is considerably enormous. 3D printing tests concepts and prototypes easily, from a prototype to a finished product.
Faster design and development of prototypes means more time to iterate the prototype and find a match before rivals in the product market. Production of 3D printing takes only hours. Conversely, it can take days, if not many weeks, to test concepts and prototypes using traditional production methods.
5. Easily Accessible
With more local service providers providing outsourcing services for production work, 3D printers are becoming more accessible. Compared with more conventional manufacturing processes developed abroad in countries such as China, this saves time and does not entail costly transport costs.
6. Lightweight and Strong Parts
Plastic is the main material used in 3D printing, although some metals could also be used for 3D printing. Plastics, however, provide benefits since they are lighter than their metal counterparts.
In industries such as automotive and aerospace, where light-weighting is a problem and can provide greater fuel efficiency, this is especially important. In order to have unique properties such as heat resistance, higher strength or water repellency, parts may also be made from tailored materials.
7. Reduces Waste
The processing of additives is a way of eliminating waste. Uh, but how? Only by using 3D printing. There is no waste during the 3D printing process, the exact amount of material is used to produce the object you need. This is not the case for other conventional methods of production.
3D printing allows more versatility for your organization. You can just 3D print it if you need a part. You can also 3D print it if you need to alter a component. With an online 3D printing service like Sculpteo, you can order the number of parts you need, there is no minimum, you just manufacture what you need from 1 to 10K+ parts.
9. Unlimited Shapes
In order to produce the desired shapes, old production methods depend on moulds and cutting technologies. With this technology, designing geometrically complex shapes can be challenging and costly. This challenge is quickly taken up by 3D printing and there is not much that the technology cannot do with the right support content.
10. Reduced Risk
A good designer understands that proper design verification is important before investing in an expensive moulding tool when it comes to product manufacturing. 3D printing technology helps product designers to check product designs before initiating major investments in production that can often be devastating.
3D printing helps you to transform an idea quicker than you can imagine into reality. Products are easily and cheaply constructed. There is no question that technology will continue to change any sector, altering the way we operate and live in the future.