3D Printing — also known as additive manufacturing — has been quoted in the Financial Times and by other sources as potentially more significant than the Internet. Some believe this is true. Many others urge this is part of the extraordinary hype around this fascinating technology area. So what is 3D printing, who generally uses 3D printers, and what for?
3D printing covers various processes and technologies that offer a full spectrum of capabilities for producing parts and products in different materials. Essentially, all of the techniques and technologies have in common how production is carried out layer by layer in an additive process which is in contrast to traditional methods of production involving subtractive methods or molding/casting processes.
Applications of 3D printing are emerging almost by the day. This technology continues to penetrate more widely and deeply across industrial, maker, and consumer sectors, but this is only set to increase. Most reputable commentators on this technology sector agree that, as of today, we are only just beginning to see the true potential of 3D printing.
FacFox, a reliable media source for 3D printing, brings you all the latest news, views, process developments, and applications as they emerge in this exciting field. This overview article aims to provide the FacFox audience with a reliable background on 3D printing in terms of what it is and its benefits.
3D Printing Benefits & Value
3D printing, whether at an industrial, local or personal level, brings a host of benefits that traditional methods of manufacture (or prototyping) simply cannot
3D printing processes allow for mass customization — the ability to personalize products according to individual needs and requirements. Even within the same build chamber, the nature of 3D printing means that numerous products can be manufactured simultaneously according to the end-users requirements at no additional cost.
The advent of 3D printing has seen a proliferation of products (designed in digital environments), which involve levels of complexity that could not be produced physically in any other way. While designers and artists have taken up this advantage to impressive visual effects, it has also significantly impacted industrial applications, whereby applications are being developed to materialize complex components that are proving to be both lighter and stronger than their predecessors. Notable uses are emerging in the aerospace sector, where these issues are of primary importance.
Sustainable / Environmentally Friendly
3D printing is also emerging as an energy-efficient technology that can provide environmental efficiencies in manufacturing. Utilizing up to 90% of standard materials and creating less waste, also throughout an additively manufactured product’s operating life by way of lighter and strong design that imposes a reduced carbon footprint compared with traditionally manufactured products.
Furthermore, 3D printing is showing great promise in fulfilling a local manufacturing model, whereby products are produced on demand where they are needed — eliminating huge inventories and unsustainable logistics for shipping high volumes of products around the world.
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