The concept of 3D printing has been around a long time, but it’s only in the last few years that the idea has really started to gain traction. Now it’s not just the engineers, architects and manufacturers who are exploring the benefits, but the designers and marketers working from home, too. 3D printing opens up a world of possibilities, making it possible to create objects from scratch in just a matter of hours. This means designers and developers can move their creations from the confines of a flat monitor into a real, physical part quicker than ever before.
3D printing is achieved with the use of additive processes, where a product is produced by placing different layers of material together. There are a huge range of benefits to using this method of creation, including the chance to explore new structures and shapes. With traditional manufacturing you have to depend more on cutting and moulding technologies in order to create a limited number of shapes. The more complex and intricate structures still have to be formed from a number of different parts before being assembled together. This all changes with 3D printing, as the nozzle of these FDM (Fuse Deposition Modeling) machines can create much more elaborate models.
Another advantage to 3D printing is the possibility of new combinations of materials. Combining different raw materials isn’t always possible with the traditional, mass production methods, thanks to high costs and physical properties that make the process tricky. With 3D printing there’s not so much of a dependence on plastic, and there are a lot of companies who provide plenty of different materials with unique finishes. These materials can create the look and feel of several different substances, including glass, ceramics or metal.
There’s also much less waste involved with 3D printing compared to traditional manufacturing methods. Manufacturing plastic and metal can be a very wasteful process, for example some aircraft builders are left with up to 90 per cent of wasted material. Additive manufacturing turns out to be much more efficient, minimising waste and having a much smaller impact on the environment.
3D printing provides designers with a fast and effective technique for producing work. Now that you can create your project on a computer and have it created in front of you within a few hours, designers now have a much greater tool to fuel their creativity. With a 3D printer, companies could save up to 70 per cent of their manufacturing cost, thanks to lower packaging and shipping prices, as well as the fact that a smaller workforce is needed for production. With the plethora of benefits that 3D printing can offer people all over the world, it’s no surprise that it’s a tool that people will look to more and more as we move into the future.