3DP Is Shifting Gears from Traditional to Smart Manufacturing

Manufacturers are using 3D printing’s flexibility to keep up with consumer trends without replacing existing tooling.

October 17, 2022

5 Min Read
Image courtesy of Alamy

Amritesh Suman, research analyst at Strategic Market Research

3D printing enables product teams to create high-quality products quickly and at a lower cost than traditional manufacturing. Before producing parts, injection molding necessitates the design and creation of costly tooling. 3D printing allows manufacturers to simply send a digital design file to the printer. In addition to plastics and polymers, steel, titanium, gold, ceramics, and other materials can be used in 3D printers.

The advantages of 3D printing have prompted significant market growth. The global 3D printing market value in 2021 was $14 billion, and by 2030 it will reach $77.83 billion, growing at a CAGR of 21%, according to a Strategic Market Research report.

Due to its speed and affordability, 3D printing has given manufacturers flexibility in prototyping and production. With 3D printing, manufacturers can easily change designs to keep up with consumer trends without replacing existing tooling. Additionally, product teams can provide more customization, lower storage expenses, omit labor-intensive assembly steps, and produce low-volume orders at a reasonable price.

3D printing technology also works with a wide range of materials, which helps the product teams to find material that meets their chemical and physical requirements. Some 3D printers can print with photosensitive resins, composite filaments, and other materials in addition to popular thermosets and thermoplastics to produce parts with complex geometries.

Related:How to Build a Better End-to-End 3DP Design to Manufacturing Platform

The Future of Manufacturing

When creating specialized parts for assembly line tools, 3D printing can be a lifesaver for mass production facilities. Traditional manufacturing can replace 3D printing for small manufacturers making low-volume customized parts. Due to its low entry requirements, 3D printing offers numerous opportunities for business owners to enter the low-volume manufacturing industry. 

There are numerous applications for 3D printing, and additive manufacturing is already a major driver of innovation in several different industries such as;

The Healthcare Industry - There is a broad range of applications for 3D printing in the medical field. Additive manufacturing is a great option for creating light, strong prostheses due to its low cost, high degree of customization, and capacity to print parts with hollow internal geometries.

The pandemic also resulted in numerous new 3D printing innovations in healthcare, ranging from mass-producing face shields to printing ventilator parts. Patient-specific surgical models and a range of dental applications, such as dentures, impression trays, antibacterial dental implants, and more, are examples of additional 3D printing medical innovations.

Related:The Key to 3DP Mass Customization Is Materials and Hardware

Desktop Health and Keystone Industries collaborated to make a variety of Keystone 3D printing dental resins starting with KeySplint Soft. They will provide the greatest productivity, precision, and performance 3D printing solutions to the dental sector.

The Automotive Industry - For interior car parts like personalized sports car seats, many manufacturers in the automotive sector use 3D printing Others use additive manufacturing to produce obsolete spare parts for vintage cars at a low cost or to create contoured seats that fit customers perfectly. Even Formula One race cars use parts produced using 3D printing.

McLaren Racings and Stratasys collaborated to develop state-of-art equipment together. Through collaboration, they will use 3D printing to enhance automotive performance.

The Aerospace Industry - Aerospace companies are now beginning to use 3D printing in their manufacturing processes. 3D-printed parts are typically less expensive and lighter than traditional parts, providing greater fuel efficiency without sacrificing strength, heat resistance, or structural integrity.

Safran, a leading manufacturer of aircraft components, announced the opening of an additive manufacturing campus to cover the field of research, engineering, and production.

The Energy Industry - Energy companies can produce parts quickly and at a lower cost and quickly due to 3D printing. While increasing efficiency, 3D printing solar panels can cut manufacturing costs by 50%. Similarly, 3D printing turbine blade molds can reduce transportation while eliminating the labor-intensive process of manually creating molds. Additionally, businesses can print obsolete parts, extending the life of their machinery.

Mighty building manufacturer of printed prefabricated, concrete-free homes completed its first prefab homes named Zero Net Energy. It is the world's first 3D-printed ZNE home, designed and built to generate more energy. Mighty Buildings incorporates solar panels onto the rooftops of its homes and supplies them with batteries for solar storage.

The Sporting Goods Industry - Athletes can benefit from highly customized products designed by sporting goods manufacturers, improving their performance while providing more protection and comfort. For example, lattice-structured custom helmets that are 3D printed enhance ventilation and impact absorption while reducing weight. Other 3D printing innovations include baseball glove inserts that enhance reaction time and gameplay, snowboard bindings that match riders' boards, and custom bike saddles that provide the ideal balance of stability, comfort, and weight.

Adidas launched the company's most advanced 3D-printed running shoe, the Adidas 4DFWD. The shoe is the first to break a long-standing barrier that has kept runners from attaining their full potential.

Waste Management Industry - The development of 3D printing is regarded as a major boon for the environment and businesses dedicated to producing more sustainable goods and products.

Cutting smaller pieces out of larger pieces of metal or plastic requires much more raw materials than modern manufacturing, which results in more waste and scraps3D printing constructs a structure or product layer by layer, leaving no waste or excess material behind.

More environmentally friendly and recycled post-consumer raw materials, like sawdust, coffee grounds, dirt, and even algae, are frequently used in 3D printing. This means less dependence on materials like plastic and steel.

Filaret collaborates with the Estonian government to convert discarded cigarettes on the country's beaches into filament. After completing the project, Filaret will empty these trash cans and convert the waste into compostable and eco-friendly 3D printing material.

One of the most important Industry 4.0 technologies is 3D printing. It completely transforms the experience when combined with other digital technologies. The creative and agile nature of 3D printing solves supply chain issues by allowing a return to localized industry rather than global production.

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