If there is a new technology that is stealing all the limelight on today’s date, then that is 3D printing. Also termed additive manufacturing, it enables a designer to craft a product or a 3D object out of a digital 3D model.
In 3D printing, the raw materials used for manufacture are crystallized, combined, or deposited in a layering fashion to generate a three-dimensional model. The designing of the object and governing the design parameters happen with the help of special software and computers.
In the past, 3D printing was limited only to aesthetic or functional prototypes. Currently, it witnesses widespread applications across various niches and on a much larger scale.
The Challenges of Traditional Manufacturing
The advent of 3D printing has been very welcoming in different manufacturing and FMCG sectors and we wonder why! The challenges that posed a lot of hindrance to traditional manufacturing, finally come to an end.
Some of the challenges where additive manufacturing was a quick win over traditional manufacturing are the following:
- Less freedom with customizations – since traditional manufacturing relies on dices to give structure to a product, there are a lot of limitations when it comes to product customizations and uniqueness.
- Economic – 3D printing economizes the cost involved in producing finished goods while traditional manufacturing units could never overlook labor costs and others
- Environmental impact – Production of objects and equipment by traditional methods produce high volumes of waste materials.
- Skilled labor – Traditional manufacturing demands the employment of skilled labor to operate and maintain the process chains.
How to Improve Manufacturing With 3D Printing?
The coming of 3D printing radically affected how the world relied on manufacturing industries in many ways. Since its inception, there has been an upward climb to improve manufacturing with 3D printing. What made this possible was the way it rendered the creation of physical objects one layer above the other, with novel geometries and intricate internal arrangements.
3D printing not only limits designers to use one material to manufacture the products but uses more. Manufacturing with 3D printing can be further improved as handling 3D printers is much easier. It is also quite easy to load and unload raw materials required to make finished products.
3D printers are compact devices and not rugged equipment claiming a lot of space. They are software-based electronics that can function on their own without manual intervention. The manufacturing processes have streamlined, enabling users to make customizations without major investment or machining skills.
The Potential Issues and Solutions of Additive Manufacturing
Like two sides of a coin, there are always pros and cons of using a particular technology. With the modernization of 3D printing technology, manufacturing finished goods became more viable.
Reduction in costs
Conventional manufacturing methods involve using heavy machines, lots of raw materials, and a good amount of skilled manpower, making the process notoriously expensive. In contrast, 3D printing opened a brand-new opportunity to produce goods that are cheaper and more accessible.
3D printing substitutes the need for heavy machines and skilled laborers with a 3D printer. Only one operator is enough to initiate the machine before it triggers an automated process of crafting the design fed to it.
Additive manufacturing has drastically reduced the amount of waste generated due to the production of an object. These devices are designed to utilize raw materials more efficiently.
Reduction of risks
Traditional manufacturing does not allow last-minute changes. This issue can be resolved with additive manufacturing. Even a design confirmed at the eleventh hour can be manufactured without errors or wasting money. The investment required for such a high-performance output is only in terms of a one-time setup cost.
Additive manufacturing boosts the confidence of designers as with 3D software they can design critical structures and immaculate geometries. There is nothing to fuss about it if the designer or customer wants to make a last moment change. Since no other engineering is involved apart from updating the 3D file, the risks of any kind of loss are far less.
Failure is cheaper and faster
Manufacturers using 3D printers do not need to retool the machine between each production. They only need to update the files between production runs.
The time required to produce finished goods using a 3D printer is reasonably less compared to traditional manufacturing. It also reduces chances of human error making it a much more failure-resistant approach towards product development.
3D printing addresses issues of slow manufacturing in the production chain. Often it is seen that on the same day a product can be designed as well as printed. Its faster production methods keep it ahead of conventional manufacturing processes.
Industries always faced a challenge when they needed to produce objects with unconventional and crude shapes and sizes. It either took a lot of time or imposed a lot of costs. Like a boon, the additive manufacturing process devises limitless possibilities in terms of geometries.
Less Storage Space
When industries no longer use a machine to make a product, they cannot always get rid of it for they might need it in the future. This obstructs a significant amount of storage space in the plant. It also cumulatively adds up the maintenance charges.
3D printing, certainly, brings a solution as it replaces bulky rugged machines and conveyors with one piece of equipment. Thus, expenses can be curtailed by diminishing the amount of room needed. With no overproduction and unforeseen challenges, it helps us with
- ✓ Reduction in costs
- ✓ Less waste
- ✓ Faster time to market
Challenges of Using 3D printing for large-scale Production
Although there are tons of benefits of using this novel technology, many businesses contemplate whether there should be a complete swap from traditional methods to this innovative manufacturing method.
Large-scale manufacturing with a 3D printer comes with some challenges, which companies have to deal with. They are as follows:
- The cost of the equipment – the one-time installation cost of a 3D printer is quite a lump sum.
- The materials available for your industry – not all materials can be used to produce the product of their choice.
- Post-processing needs – post-processing modifications cannot be done on 3D printed products.
- (Lack of) Expertise – since this technology is relatively new, not many workers are inverse with it.
- Software development and capabilities – without 3D designing software, this process becomes handicapped
Apart from these, there are some additional hurdles that any businesses encounter when it comes to adopting 3D printing, which are beyond the financial implications.
The manufacturing industry is highly competitive posing a lot of challenges to overcome and a lot of success stories to boast about. The general outlook towards this new technology is the benefits it is associated with and the value it brings.
This technology can magnify novelty and usefulness to overall performances. Newer models of printers and upgraded tools, technologies, and software promise a very bright future with trending 3D printed gadgets.
Each and every interested individual should devote quality time to research how they can amp up the manufacturing process. From the business perspective, the printers, software, skilled employees, and raw materials should be procured and available in proper quantities to scale up the 3D printing business.