Advances in performance, and the durability and range of materials used in additive manufacturing and stereolithography offerings, are enabling companies to produce highly durable prototypes and parts, while also cost-effectively churning out manufactured products in limited production runs.
New printer platforms equipped with expanded build areas, and which offer the ability to combine materials, are also opening doors to a whole new range of applications, including leveraging 3D printing to prototype things never thought possible, like entire cars.
Click on the photo below to view a wide range of 3D printers, from half-million-dollar rapid prototyping systems to $1,000 home units:
Brought into the line via its acquisition of Bits from Bytes, 3D Systems' 3DTouch is a sub-$4,000, fully-assembled 3D printer, which offers a touchscreen for ease of operation. (Source: 3D Systems)
3D printers are clearly mainstream now, both on a cost basis and wider deployment throughout industry. This slideshow is an example of the still-fairly-early stage -- but technologically advanced -- products hitting the market. The interesting question now is what this is going to enable in terms of product development by companies who heretofore had not had the resources to do as much prototyping as previously. 3D printers are equalizing the playing field.
This slide show demonstrates what a wide spectrum exists with 3D printers, This industry seems to have popped up out of nowhere and now it looks fully formed. One of the surprising aspects is the relative low price of much of this equipment. Amazing.
Thanks, Beth, this slideshow has some fun machines in it, like that Mcor machine that uses paper as a material. Alex' note on increasing the access to more prototyping for companies who could not afford to do as much before makes me wonder: will that produce better products from either large or small companies? Several other recent comment threads have noted low product quality and the apparent lack of real-world design testing, like the monoxide detectors:
Thanks Beth, Love the slide show format as a way to demonstrate the breadth of work being done within a specific technology area. Certainly with the growth of 3D visualization, effective output is an important part of the iterative design process. Thanks again.
I think 3D printing has potential. Might not be the most efficient way of doing things currently but i am willing to bet that there are processes that will benefit from 3D printing still. I did some research in Nano-lithography using AFM microscopes. And yes even in scale of 1nm 3D printing has its uses. And a handful of people do it. It has been very helpful for physics and quantum mechanics to build 3D structures at nano scale and study the affects that light or electric fields have on them.
3D printers are nowadays accessible to a wide range or users and costs are affordable, I produce ABS parts in low volume and the investment is very low compared to producing the same parts by injection molding. I hope this machines become even more accessible to all people because they incentivate design and innovation. Thanks for the sideshow!
I think the combination of more readily available and inexpensive 3D printers coupled with more accessible simulation packages are really changing the game with how companies can explore design options. It's not just improving and facilitating the creation of a handful of physical prototypes, it's allowing companies to explore more design options allowing them to key in on optimized designs. In theroy, that entire process should boost quality and product innovation.
Virtual Reality (VR) headsets are getting ready to explode onto the market and it appears all the heavy tech companies are trying to out-develop one another with better features than their competition. Fledgling start-up Vrvana has joined the fray.
A Tokyo company, Miraisens Inc., has unveiled a device that allows users to move virtual 3D objects around and "feel" them via a vibration sensor. The device has many applications within the gaming, medical, and 3D-printing industries.
While every company might have their own solution for PLM, Aras Innovator 10 intends to make PLM easier for all company sizes through its customization. The program is also not resource intensive, which allows it to be appropriated for any use. Some have even linked it to the Raspberry Pi.
solidThinking updated its Inspire program with a multitude of features to expedite the conception and prototype process. The latest version lets users blend design with engineering and manufacturing constraints to produce the cheapest, most efficient design before production.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.