What 3D Printers Can Make for Businesses in 2022
How Does 3D Printing Work?
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is no longer limited to prototyping and creating end-use products. It has applications in a diverse range of industries, including education, automotive, aerospace, dentistry, and architecture. It has become affordable for personal use and offers a lot of options in terms of materials, use cases, and designs.
Here’s how 3D printing works:
- First, you’ll need to create a 3D model of the part using 3D computer-aided design (CAD) software such as AutoCAD or Blender.
- Once you’ve created your three-dimensional design, it’s time to upload it to a 3D printer.
- The 3D printer uses filament (e.g ABS, PLA, etc.) as feedstock and deposits melted material on the print bed layer by layer.
- This process results in fully formed structures ranging from tools and toys to footwear and dentures.
In this article, we’ll go over a number of things businesses and personal users can make using a 3D printer.
What Can 3D Printers Make?
The wide variety of 3D printing techniques and materials allow for the creation of highly-functional products with exceptional mechanical properties. Let’s look at some of the things businesses and personal users make using 3D printers.
3D printing offers a faster and more cost-effective way to build workable models of end products compared to traditional manufacturing methods.
3D printer-assisted designs allow engineers to develop multiple versions of the same product during the stage of new model development and refine the fit and form of finished parts. This enables manufacturers to optimize the design step and save a lot of time and costs in the production process.
Additive manufacturing is widely used for prototyping in various industries including automotive, aerospace, and healthcare to make functional parts, models, and consumer products.
- Some of the most popular rapid prototyping technologies include:
- Stereolithography (SLA)
- Fused filament fabrication (FFF) (also known as fused deposition modeling or FDM)
- Selective laser sintering (SLS)
- Digital light processing (DLP)
Functional Printed Parts
Traditional manufacturing methods use assembly processes like soldering, welding, and riveting to join individual components together for building a final product. In contrast, 3D printing enables engineers to directly print multiple components as a single 3D-printed part using integrated assembly designs. This minimizes assembly workload, and significantly improves manufacturing turnaround times throughout the manufacturing process.
Additive manufacturing offers a simpler way to produce high-quality spare parts on-demand. You can store a digital model of your spare parts and print them whenever you need them.
This enables companies to ensure the supply of critical spare parts and reduce downtimes in manufacturing.
3D printing offers an inexpensive way to create highly precise, smooth 3D-printed scale models to show concepts and designs of new products. Physical models enable engineers and designers to visualize and solve design problems in complex systems better than CAD models.
Moreover, you can choose from a variety of additive manufacturing techniques (such as FFF, SLA, and DLP) and 3D printing materials (including foam core, woods, metal powder, PLA filament, or light-sensitive polymers).
The market for 3D printing for physical modeling has experienced substantial growth due to the availability of low-cost DIY printer kits. For example, the RepRap open-source 3D printing movement made it possible for beginner and hobbyist users to print 3D objects, such as figurines, jewelry, and toys, at home.
Prosthetics and Aids
3D printing offers promising opportunities for healthcare and prosthetic medicine where a high level of customization is required. It has enabled biomedical engineers to design and print patient-specific devices and custom prosthetics. These 3D-printed products offer better mobility, comfort, and biomechanical performance compared to traditional manufacturing methods.
Additionally, additive manufacturing allows faster production of devices (such as hearing aids), surgical instruments, implants (including cranial plats, bone implants, and heart valves), and dental restorations (like bridges, dentures, and crowns).
Instead of time-consuming processes like fitting and casting, 3D printing technology enables manufacturers to scan complex geometries and print prosthetics and aids fully customized to the wearer in a single day.
What Industries Are Making Using 3D Printers?
In this section, we’ll take a look at four industries that are harnessing the power of 3D printers to optimize manufacturing and improve efficiency.
Car manufacturers use 3D printing to build high detail, accurate scale models to showcase a concept car or prototype during the design stage. Using additive manufacturing, automotive designers are able to create multiple iterations of a prototype for new product development. This allows them to test printed parts to identify performance flaws and tweak the prototype until the desired result is achieved.
Moreover, automotive companies use 3D printing to produce jigs, fixtures, and grips as well as high-quality car interior parts.
Manufacturing cars using 3D printing also reduces raw material consumption and wastage because parts are precisely built using only the required layers of material.
Businesses use in-house 3D printers to demonstrate physical representations of future products to customers or order printed parts from a 3D printing service. These parts can be printed using almost any material (including ABS plastic filament, ceramics, and stainless steel).
Designers use CAD equipment along with 3D printers to create printable designs and test out multiple versions of the same product prior to the manufacturing phase. This helps them identify possible design problems and create efficient designs that meet end-user requirements.
Industrial design companies use 3D printing to test ideas, improve designs, and build product concepts and prototypes faster.
The healthcare industry has long relied on 3D printing processes to provide patients with high-quality, affordable medical products.
Additive manufacturing processes like digital light processing (DLP) or stereolithography (SLA) are commonly used in dentistry, prosthetics, and surgery.
In dentistry, 3D teeth scanning is used to create a 3D model of the patient’s teeth and gums. Dentists then use a dental 3D printer to create accurate orthodontic models, dental implants (such as dentures, bridges, and crowns), and repair or replace damaged teeth. The dental 3D printing market is projected to grow from 3.2 billion to 7.9 billion by 2027.
Similarly, 3D bioprinters are used to print organs, including the liver, heart, lungs, fingers, and biological materials like bone particles and cells. The 3D biomanufacturing technology has applications in cancer research, chondral repairment, and drug printing.
The use of 3D printing in the aerospace industry can be traced back to the 1980s. This technology has enabled aerospace engineers to design and build complex, durable parts while reducing the weight and cost of components. As a result, the aerospace 3D printing market is projected to grow to $24.7 billion by 2026.
GE Aviation, Airbus, and Lockheed Martin use additive manufacturing to produce gauges, fixtures, templates, and interior aircraft parts like door handles and cockpit dashboards. Similarly, Boeing uses 3D printing to design and produce satellite parts faster.
Upgrade Your Manufacturing Process with 3D Printers from Carbon
3D printing is revolutionizing the way we design and manufacture products. It has enabled us to make stronger parts, complex shapes, and improve efficiency.
Carbon’s breakthrough Continuous Liquid Interface Production™, or CLIP™, can help you produce prototypes and parts faster with high precision. Contact a Carbon expert to find out how you can increase manufacturing efficiency!
3D as It’s Meant to Be
Interested in utilizing Carbon to accelerate product development? Reach out to us at email@example.com to learn more!