It hasn’t been too long ago that 3-D printing was merely theory in the minds of scientists and inventors. Thousands of articles were written touting how 3-D printing would change the world someday, but it all just seemed like a big pipe dream that was never going to happen, similar to a fusion reactor. Now just a decade and a half later 3-D printing has become a reality and as a technology picks up momentum there are new innovations coming every single day. There are 3-D printers already in the works that will be designed to use recycled soda bottles instead of new plastic, they’re designs for a carbon fiber printer, and even those that can print proteins to make some kinds of food. With each new kind of printer, and printing material comes thousands of new opportunities to manufacture different products.
Many manufacturers are already using 3 – D
Many manufacturers are already using 3-D printing to speed up the process in the design of other products. Ford and General Motors will design a new car prototype on a computer, and then within a few days they can have that prototype made in a 3-D printer in a scale model, or a full-size model ready for testing in a wind tunnel. These kinds of advances have been able to save the research and development teams literally millions of dollars and years of work. In the past, all of the prototypes needed to be handmade individually by skilled craftsmen, and, any minor changes could take months to make, now due to computer technology combined with 3-D printing, just a few days is needed.
Although printing in 3-D is not an inexpensive endeavor, the alternative was always to make everything by hand, and so in comparison the use of a 3-D printer in manufacturing and production is an incredible money saver. The 3-D printer has eliminated hundreds of individual steps between design and prototype. Another incredible advantage is the intricate detail that a high-end 3-D printer can produce, this can be many times more precise than a handmade prototype, plus different designs are possible that had never been before.
The incredible advantage
of 3-D printing in custom making products cannot be overlooked. It is entirely possible in the very near future that you will be able to go to a local store, design new custom fenders for your car on a computer, and then have them custom made with a 3-D printer, ready to be installed on your car in just a day or so. Leggero Forte explain here, the challenge that 3-D printing will bring, https://leggeroforte-public.sharepoint.com/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=4 People will be designing custom parts for their motorcycles, cars, boats, cell phones, home speakers, and any other product you can think of, you will be able to custom design, one-of-a-kind, unique parts and have them made. There will be whole industries spawned that will just be in the design of custom new parts to fit older products, millions of jobs be created in this industry alone.
Another interesting niche for 3-D printing is in all of the hard to find auto parts for older antique cars. We’re not just talking about replacement fenders here, but distributor caps, rotors, radiators and nearly every other part of the car which can imagined will be able to be ordered from a catalog, printed either locally or internationally, then shipped to your front door in just days. There are many businesses even in the new parts industry that will take advantage of high-speed 3-D printing was it becomes available. There will be no point in an auto parts store having $3 million worth of small parts on inventory at all times, when they can use a 3-D printer to print just the parts they need when they need them.
There is a new world on the horizon in 3D printing that most people haven’t yet seen, but it will revolutionize thousands of industries from design, manufacturing and delivery.
- Image courtesy of Smart photo stock
Amy Rice enjoys writing about composite materials, when not writing she enjoys horse riding with her daughter and visiting the cinema.