It is no secret that technology is shaping the world we inhabit and driving our choices in a significant manner – from purchase decisions being made by individuals to strategic actions being undertaken by businesses.
One of the technologies that is transforming manufacturing processes across sector lines is 3D printing. And the rapid pace of the innovations in 3D printing presents seemingly ceaseless opportunities for the future.
What is 3D Printing?
3D Printing is a process through which a design created on a computer can be used to manufacture a three-dimensional object. Considered to be a type of additive manufacturing, 3D printing is centered around the optimal utilization of raw materials in the manufacturing process through a focused approach, thereby reducing the time and cost of manufacturing alike.
What Are The Applications of 3D Printing?
1. The applications of 3D printing are diverse: from the manufacture of prosthetics to the production of automobile and airplane components, the innovations in 3D printing are still at their beginning stage.
2. 3D Printing in the Field of Medicine: Additive manufacturing technology is being deployed to manufacture innovative and customized prosthetic equipment and devices.
Another example of 3D printing-based medical advances is the utilization of 3D printed tissue culture for drug testing, leading to better accuracy in the process. In addition to this, 3D printing is also being applied for creating customized implants.
3. 3D Printing in the Automobile Sector: The applications of 3D printing in the automobile sector are nothing short of a game-changer. From better inventory management to smoother supply chains, technology is revolutionizing the way automobile components are manufactured.
For instance, the United States Military is using 3D printing to attain an on-demand production of equipment rather than bulk batch production.
Audi, one of the world’s leading car manufacturers, has been using 3D printing technology to manufacture their car parts and reduce both the time and cost of the manufacturing process.
4. 3D Printing in the Aerospace sector: Another fascinating facet of 3D printing technology is its application in the aerospace sector. With the application of 3D printing in aerospace, light and efficient aircraft can be manufactured in a short time frame.
For instance; Stratasys has successfully manufactured an Unmanned Air Vehicle powered by a jet. 80% of the aforementioned aircraft has been 3D printed.
Furthermore, the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom has also been successful in applying 3D printing to the manufacturing of aircraft. The university has manufactured the frame of an Unmanned Air Vehicle using the technology. Significantly, the airframe can be 3D printed in as short of a timeline as a day.
What Is The Cost of 3D Printing?
Whilst 3D printing is largely being used in industrial manufacturing and academic research, it is a technology that is very much accessible and affordable. Entry-level 3D printers that can be used on a small scale can be purchased for between $300 to $1,500. Industrial 3D printers, however, come with a higher price tag attached.
If you are wondering: ‘how much does an industrial 3D printer cost?’, the cost ranges anywhere between $20,000 and $100,000. The higher the functionality and capacity, the higher the cost of the printer.
Additionally, you can opt for hybrid additive machines that combine additive and subtractive technologies to provide a comprehensive solution. For instance, Phillips Additive Hybrid machines, powered by Haas, allow you to add additive capabilities directly to your existing machines, thereby eliminating the need to buy a separate 3D printer.
The potential of 3D printing technology is immense and it can transform the way manufacturing looks in the future.