In 2021, the number of businesses investing in digital transformation is growing. They invest in advanced business technologies, and 3D printing is their top priority.
3D printing refers to additive manufacturing. During the manufacturing process, 3D printers create three-dimensional items by putting different materials together layer by layer. Most of the process is automated and easily customizable.
3D technologies benefit manufacturing businesses and hobbyists in multiple ways, from faster production to lower costs.
In this article, you will learn why 3D printing is the technology of the future.
- Reducing your Company’s Expenses
Conventional prototyping methods, such as CNC machining, require you to invest in a wide array of costly hardware. Your labor costs will also skyrocket as you may need to hire experienced machine operators and technicians to run and maintain your printing systems.
3D printing solutions are far more affordable than their traditional counterparts. They are fully automated, meaning you do not need to expand your team and hire IT professionals. You can train your existing employees to run, supervise, and maintain the machine.
- Minimizing Waste with Additive Manufacturing
With 3D printing, you will also reduce your waste material.
Let’s take the example of the abovementioned CNC machining process, often used in the automotive sector. We also call it subtractive manufacturing. In other words, parts start as a solid block of aluminum or steel. Then, manufacturers use a wide range of tools to remove material and carve a product out of that solid block.
Apart from the extremely high prices of the subtractive manufacturing equipment, you also need to consider the waste generated during the process. The waste needs to be collected and recycled, which may eat up both your time and money.
3D printing simplifies the process since it dramatically reduces the production of scrap waste, sometimes by up to 90%. Plus, the materials used in 3D printing are generally eco-friendly and recyclable.
- Letting You Combine Different Materials
Over the past few years, 3D technologies have become synonymous with personalization and uniqueness. For example, interior design companies and architects can create 3D floor plans or architectural animations to deliver immersive client experiences.
The same applies to 3D printing. Traditional mass manufacturing solutions do not allow the combination of raw materials since it is expensive. On the other hand, 3D printing encourages the use of multiple materials.
That way, it enables an array of colors, textures, and mechanical features to be combined. The technology mixes and accommodates various raw materials, including metal, glass, ceramics, paper, silver, and so forth.
That way, it allows you to edit designs however you like and create authentic, customized items. You can also use a wide range of materials to meet the industry requirements.
- Facilitating and Accelerating the Manufacturing Process
Before the rapid evolution of 3D printing, a product prototype would take weeks to design and manufacture. Every time you made a change, it slowed down the manufacturing process.
One of the most prominent benefits of 3D printing technologies is rapid prototyping. It stands for the ability to design, manufacture, and test a customized part in as little time as possible. Your company can perform these operations in-house, using a professional 3D printer. Testing usually takes several days, depending on the complexity of the project. Above all, you can even tweak the design without affecting the speed of the manufacturing process.
For companies of all shapes and sizes, these differences are huge. Your team can unleash their creativity and launch new items faster without investing in additional expensive printing hardware.
- Enabling Greater Flexibility
3D printing requires one or two machines to complete a wide array of tasks. These technologies also help you improve your design and gain a competitive advantage. Namely, it allows the production of complex items impossible for traditional printing methods to create.
Let’s take the example of the aircraft industry. The companies in this niche are striving to save weight on their airplanes. It directly affects the plane’s payload, fuel consumption, speed, and emissions. The key components that impact its weight are wall panels, seat frameworks, ducts, and engine parts. 3D printing can help here since 3D-printed parts are considerably lighter.
Many aircraft companies, including Etihad, Boeing, and Airbus have been already investing in 3D printing. For instance, Boeing has made 60,000 parts with the help of 3D printers.
- Greater Availability
Today, individuals and companies have greater access to 3D printing.
According to research studies, the global 3D printing products and services market size was $12.6 billion. In 2024, the market size is expected to exceed $24.9 billion, while in 2026, this figure will reach $37.2 billion.
Over to You
3D printing technologies are faster, flexible, and more affordable than traditional manufacturing processes. Most importantly, they are sustainable and environment-friendly. With their help, you can turn imagination into reality.