With the dawn of 3D printers the traditional ways of manufacturing are changing with leaps and bounds. A few years back 3D printing was an important technology for the creation of proto-types but now 3D printing seems to have captured the entire consumer market right from electronics to toys, healthcare to space. There is a long list of industries that are bound to be disrupted by the large scale usage of 3D printers. In this article we will see some of the industries that are greatly affected by the adaptation of 3D printers.
3D Printing effect on traditional Manufacturing
3D printing will very soon replace the traditional manufacturing industry. The production of parts at a faster rate with the help of 3D printers is something that is attracting a lot of manufacturers to switch to this technology. The various mass production manufacturing industries that will sooner or later experience the 3DP are: electronic production, jewelry industry, manufacturing of the various automotive parts and the manufacturing of toys.
Bio-printing is growing at a very rapid pace and now it is also being considered as the fastest growing form of 3D printing. In this form of 3D printing ink jet style printers are used to make living tissues. Organovo plans to commercialize 3D printed liver tissues. They have amalgamated their efforts with the National Eye Institute and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences to print eye tissue.
With the help of 3D printing now medical solutions can be more personalized as per the needed of the patients. The implanting of soft tissue organs such as ear, finger or kidney can be easily done by 3D printing and will soon be done widely.
The other applications of 3D printing in this sector would be metal hip implants, skull implants, orthopedic insoles, body braces, and jaw transplants have already been manufactured on 3D printers.
The recent development made in this sector with aid from 3D printing is that of the origin of a new process known as the Block Cell Printing. In this process 100% of the cells are living as compared to the earlier process in which only 50%- 80% of the cells would survive.
The equipments that are used in this sector are either very complex or very dangerous to use. So the quantity in which it is produced is not very high. The volume of production is relatively low. The parts of these equipments are mostly custom made and a there will be a frequent need for replacing them once they are worn out. With 3D printers the replacement parts can be built on site which results in saving a lot of time and money in ordering the replacement parts.
3D printed guns have also been done last year. The defense departments of countries like US and Australia are thinking of installing 3D printers in their respective departments. A platoon that would be solely 3D printing the parts that are needed by the soldiers will be seen very soon.
3D printing has proved the positive impact that it can create on students by the various experiments that were done in many schools and colleges around the globe. Some colleges and universities such as University of Michigan have already started using this technology in their regular curriculum.
MakerBot one of the biggest 3D printing company has recently announced the establishment of the MakerBot Academy. It is a crowdfunded plan which will enable the entry of 3D printers in every school in America. The company also plans to establish MakerBot Innovation Centers in the various colleges and universities starting from the State University of New York at New Palz.
Chocolates are something that are loved and enjoyed by people of all age groups. Customization of chocolate has been something that has lately overpowered this industry. Chocolates of different shapes and sizes have attracted many people who want to gift their loved ones something sweet. Chocolates that are shaped like logos of companies, names and other objects are being widely printed all over the world with much ease as compared to the traditional methods. 3D printing has become so versatile that anything can be printed that can exist in powder or liquid form. In other words things that can be extruded from a nozzle or a syringe can be 3D printed. Sugar sculptures are something that is just another miracle that can be done by 3D printing.
The other materials that can be 3D printed are cheese and sauces. In one of the recent developments in this sector is the 3D of pizza, an egg plant dish, corn pasta and panna cotta.
The venturing of 3d printers in this industry has been something that is very recent. One of the most logical usages of this technology is the 3D printing of the various parts, tools and gadgets that are needed on board of a space ship. This makes the crew which is onboard very self sufficient.
3D printing can also accelerate the building of parts for the International Space Station. NASA has collaborated with the Marshall Space Flight Center to launch the very first 3D printer in space. This printer will manufacture parts in zero gravity. In another effort to make these printers an active member on space ships an engineer has won a grant from NASA for creating a machine that would print food for the astronauts who are on board.
These are few examples which clearly indicate how 3d printing is slowly changing the way manufacturing is being done today. Moreover it shows the potential that this technology carries. It also gives us a sense that it can serve important civic purposes and also become an engine for economic development.
Environmental Effect of 3D Printing
The traditional methods of mass production are very wasteful and dirty. In more than one way 3D printing lowers down the level of waste and also the carbon footprint that the manufacturing industry can have on the planet. Some of the benefits of using 3DP over the traditional manufacturing techniques are:
- Fewer wasted materials
- Possibility of longer life span of the object that is created.
- Cutting down the transportation cost
- Fewer unsold products as production is done only when there is a demand. (no warehousing)
Image Credit: Luke Peterson (flickr handle: lukepeterson)