3D Printing – The New Age Manufacturing!
In this part, let’s explore 3D Printing in depth. So what exactly is 3D printing? 3D Printing or Additive Manufacturing is the process of conversion of a digital file into a three-dimensional solid object. This is done by adding material layer by layer to the object. Each of these layers can be seen as a thing cross-section of the final product. Materials like plastics, biomaterials, or composites are used to create objects of any shape, size, color, and rigidity.
Fascinatingly, 3D printing can be used to create anything and everything, from the smallest to the biggest things you can imagine. Today they can be used to make cars and houses to the viable PPE kits that healthcare workers are using today to fight COVID-19! Everything today can be manufactured using 3D printing.
3D printing is fundamentally different from other types of manufacturing, CNC Manufacturing (subtractive) and Injection Molding (formative). This new-age form of manufacturing doesn’t require any special tools catered to the job, like cutting tools of a specific shape or a mold. Instead, the part is manufactured by adding layer by layer, and hence no special parts are required. One can understand this by comparing 3D printing as a model formed using tiny lego blocks. Each layer is added over the next one, this process can be easily compared to how a 3D printed model is made.
Benefits over traditional methods –
There are a number of drawbacks to traditional methods, most of which are related to human labor and made by hand ideology. However, nowadays there are many automated processes out there, like machining, casting, forming, and molding which are all (relatively) new, complex processes that require machines, computers, and robot technology. But the problem with these methods is that all of them are subtractive methods and hence require subtraction of materials either to create the final products or to create a tool that shall be used to create the final product. The subtractive method poses a serious limitation in the overall manufacturing process. In many cases, these methods impose a number of unacceptable constraints. Other than that these a lot of material is wasted in these processes, sometimes even up to 90% of the total material.
In contrast, 3D printing doesn’t require specialized tools that are only useful for that job, create less waste, and also there are no constraints to creating any products and everything can be made.
Advantages of 3D Printing
- Flexible Design – There are hardly any constraints on what can be created.
- Rapid Prototyping – It can prototype in a span of hours, which can speed up the prototyping steps
- Print on demand is another benefit of using 3D printers
- It can create strong and lightweight parts.
- Minimized waste.
Disadvantages of 3D Printing
Though a newer and better method, 3D printing also isn’t perfect. It also has its own sets of drawbacks, which one should be aware of. Here are a few of them –
- Energy inefficient – 3D printing uses 100 times more energy than the traditional method of manufacturing. This is an environmental hazard also.
- The technology required is costly – the hardware, software, and material costs of 3D printing are high.
- The choice of materials required to 3D print is very few, mostly plastic is used.
- It is very slow and non-practical when it comes to mass production.
- It can increase piracy and is also a security hazard. Terrorists can easily download blueprints from the internet and print weapons. Some terrorist organizations have also created fake credit card readers in the banking sector.
This was an overview of what 3D printing is, and its advantages and disadvantages. Stay tuned for further blogs on this topic! To know more about our course on Rapid Prototyping using 3D Printing, call our counselor at 9372941417 now!
Still at student, Arya is going to studying Mechanical Engineering at The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. He aspires to be an entrepreneur in the future, and is an intern right now at Text and Clicks. He is very enthusiastic and hard working, and loves adventure.