3D printing- is this the future of product manufacturing?

3D or three-dimensional printing is not a novelty anymore. It has been able to take product manufacturing by a storm. It was not expected“anything” to be possible to “print” rather than produced; major companies are now turning towards this new method of manufacturing retiring the old factories and workers. In a way, it is a threat. But how far is it feasible?

 

Disadvantages of the old system

We are used to everything being made in factories; however, they have limitations. Factories cannot be reprogrammable, some are not even programmable. If your production strategy changed, new machines must be bought spending a small fortune. Due to this cost, the first few product batches will be quite expensive, than the next batches, posing a disadvantage to initial customers. Also due to the high costs, factory owners are reluctant to change their usual productions. Warehouses and suppliers are needed to store products and sell around the globe.

 

Change brought on by 3 D printing

3 D printing has definitely changed all this. It can build almost anything, from statues to bridges to drills. Delivering metal products by mixing welding and 3 D printers have now taken a new turn. Recently a group of students from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands showcased multidimensional competences of a welding-based 3 D printer by building a metal bicycle. In the UK, a company named desktop metal owns the several intellectual rights to metal printing products. But this is not limited to Europe or USA; if you are in Asia, you can buy welding equipment Singapore to try something like that too.

 

Challenges in 3 D printing

3 D printing is not easy; especially metal printing is hard. You have to get the design precisely right and in metal printing, it is difficult to eject melted metal like other polymers printers are used to, as metal must be heated to very high temperatures. Capital is another issue. Even though it is a one-time cost, still 3 D printers and associated equipment cost are very high. Know-how also can be an issue as not anyone knows to manage such a printer. People’s attitudes could be an issue if they are aware of what they use came off a printer and not a “proper” machine.

It is no wonder “things” are being printed now rather than “made”. Letters are now emailed rather than posted, people chat via the internet, rather than meeting and talking and photos are edited than taking another. It is just another innovative development and all we can do is get used to it.

 

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