At the event, Mydesign, the Stratasys executives made a point of letting journalists know that the popular conception of 3D printing is inconsistent with the realities of using it in manufacturing settings. As you point out, there are a lot of applications that don't lend themselves to 3D printing.
I agree, naperlou. I think we're only scratching the surface here. Companies will learn how to combine information technology and 3D printing in all kinds of industries to produce customized products that no one has thought about yet.
"Injection molding has improved to the point that it is possible to make small production runs with molds that are cheaper. They may not be as long lasting as the traditional mold, but they are just fine for those smaller runs on an inexpensive machine."
Naperlou, you mean that 3D printing objects are of high quality and have better durability? I think in both cases the composition of material may be same and only the finishing may be better in 3D printing.
Charles, it's very nice to read this interesting article. I read many articles with respect to 3D printing and in one of them somebody specified that it can print ornaments, medicines etc. I think it peoples are aware only about merits and they presumes that it will be able to print everything.
Chuck, 3D printing is another good tool for manufacturing parts. In the past, CNC machining allowed cost effective production of small runs of parts. This is still true. Injection molding has improved to the point that it is possible to make small production runs with molds that are cheaper. They may not be as long lasting as the traditional mold, but they are just fine for those smaller runs on an inexpensive machine. Often the molds are made on a CNC machine. 3D is another low production rate technique that can be used in various situations. In "low" volume industries like aviation, this technique is very useful. In a mass customization environment 3D can really shine. I wonder when we will see personalization of prodcuts like automobiles with the addition of 3D printed interior parts (like special cup holders). Information technology coupled with 3D printing could make that a reality.
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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