Introduction:

3D printing is an Additive Manufacturing technology Considered as the most disruptive technology in the Manufacturing Industry. It has created a platform where manufacturing is not limited to industries, but individuals can also manufacture within their own space. Although the 3D printing technology used today is not yet viable in every industry, there are few industries where 3D printers replace the workforce.  But industries that are too big for 3D printing will have another decade or so before the technology catches up with them. 

Evolution of 3D printing over the years:

We’re on the cusp of the 4th Industrial Revolution, where physical and digital technologies will radically alter how companies conceive, design, produce, distribute, and repair nearly everything. The increased global demand for sustainable solutions and customized products has resulted in a surge in demand for 3D-printed parts and products. Technological innovations in the field have halved costs while delivering twice the performance. As the 3D printing sector moves beyond prototyping, the use of this technology, particularly in supply chains, is becoming increasingly widespread. 

The role of 3d printing in the manufacturing industry

3D printing already plays several roles in the manufacturing process, and it is poised to make further gains as it is refined and perfected. Currently, design and rapid prototyping are two of the main processes that benefit from 3D prints. 3D printers are also useful in low-volume production, such as when small amounts of product are needed to test the market or advertise at trade shows. And as time goes on, 3D printers’ production capabilities continue to scale. In every facet of the manufacturing, 3D printers can reduce the time and cost required to achieve a viable product. 

Advantages of using 3D printing for manufacturing:

  1. Ability to Manufacture Complex Designs.
  2. Low Waste or No waste Production Process.
  3. Freedom of Manufacturing Customized products.
  4. Limiting Supply Chains by On Demand Manufacturing. 
  5. Highly Reduced workforce due to digitized Manufacturing.
  6. Access to different materials and technologies due to exponential R&D.

Challenges of 3D printing:

The most significant hurdle is the change of mindset. It is crucial to think about designing for 3D from the first stages of product development, to think about the wider implications of how development is staged to full-scale production, and how supply chains can be further optimized. There is a deep, ingrained sense of limits and hurdles for those who have worked decades in traditional manufacturing. With 3D manufacturing, there is almost a re-learning process that needs to take place – the vast majority of those limits no longer apply. The design possibilities are limitless.  And, of course, there are new skills that must be developed to fully leverage these possibilities. For engineers, new elements of the design process will be introduced into their roles where they will need to learn the mechanics of 3D printing to become experts in the processes and best support operational functions during production.