What is 3D Printing?

Posted on June 23, 2015

Read this informative blog post to find out about the benefits of 3D printing, its limitations and the upcoming 3D printing trends in the future.

3D printing refers to an additive material deposition process that is used to develop solid objects (3D) from a digital design file. Before an object can be used for 3D printing, a virtual design of the object has to be created by using the CAD software. Next, a digital file is developed from the CAD design and used for 3D printing. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Fused Deposition Modeling and Stereolithography are the three most popular methods of 3D printing

Benefits of 3D printing

  • 3D printing is excellent for rapid prototyping
  • 3D printing is more cost-effective that the traditionally manufactured parts in terms of the cost and time required to produce parts
  • 3D printing can produce objects from a different range of materials
  • With 3D printing, wastage of material can be avoided. The complications associated with machining, filing, grinding and milling can also be eliminated
  • Since 3D printing is suited for rapid prototyping, it leads to a short product development cycle and faster time to market

Types of 3D printing

Today 3D printing is growing at a fast pace, the two major types being industrial printing and personal printing

  • Industrial 3D printing: Concept cards, shoes, parts for fighter jets, prosthetics, jewellery, statues, dental crowns and bridges to name a few
  • Personal 3D printing: Musical instruments, medical models, model replicas, fabrics, guns, coffee cups, phone cases, toys and handbags amongst others

The limitations

  • The layer-by-layer material deposition technique cannot create parts that are as strong as traditionally-manufactured parts
  • 3D printing does not have the capacity to develop automobile parts or metallic parts from alloys
  • 3D printing is more suited for hobbyists and not for the development of large volume products

3D printing trends in the future

In the near future, more of 3D printing will be used by both industries as well as factories. Here are some upcoming trends in 3D printing:

  • There will be an increase in the demand of 3D printed aircraft and automobile parts
  • More and more customized merchandise will be 3D printed. For example, custom ordered hearing aids or prostheses
  • 3D printing will be introduced into the product delivery cycle for rapid prototyping, to reduce wastage of materials and to minimize the cost of tooling
  • 3D printing will be extensively used for feasibility studies on new product ideas and inventive proposals

Do you want to know more about 3D printing or 3D product animation? If yes, read about our engineering services.

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