A decade back when 3D printers were still evolving, they offered a very limited range of application areas in terms of size, intricacy and material composition. They were not considered serious enough, and the reason was because of the concept itself which sounded as if it had been ripped off a sci-fi film.
However, that was long ago. Today, these printers have evolved into monster production tools which are being increasingly used in the fields of automobiles, space programs, commercial and defence aircrafts, medical science and in a host of other industries. As these machines evolved so did the associated tools, software and raw materials.
1. Cost Effective
One of the most important benefits of 3D printing is the cost effectiveness. For example, if a company imports or outsources a component from another city or country, the cost increases due to various taxes and transportation.
Now, this component needn’t be bought from faraway places if it can be built with a 3D printer which is typically software/data based. The company can simply get the design made or emailed from an existing source and load the data in their in-house 3D printing machine and manufacture the critical component locally, saving enormous amounts of money in the process.
2. Less Wastage
Many times manufacturers complain that wastage is one of their biggest production hurdles. In simple words, any material wastage beyond 10% is considered unviable proposition. However, while building some components, especially in the aerospace industry this figure can go as high as 90%. In such a scenario a 3D printer offers respite. With its additive designing technique it brings down this loss by almost 50% thereby saving manufacturing enterprises millions and billions of dollars each year.
3. Time Saving
Yet another key feature or advantage of a 3D printer is the way it functions or operates. Once the data in loaded in the machine it produces a component quickly and accurately, unlike other production machines which requires warming up, preheating and loading of heavy moulds and fixtures.
Conventional machines also demand mass production to bring down the cost of individual piece, unlike 3D printer which is free from this requirement. Due to its flexibility and ease of operation this machine can build objects cheaply irrespective of the numbers.
4. Environmental friendly
A 3D printer reduces company’s carbon footprint, and the reason is because of its inherent functioning. This printer as mentioned above does not require preheating of raw materials thus reducing electricity bill significantly which simply means conservation of fuel/coal the core natural commodities.
It also means the organization spares the environment from degradation, albeit in a small way. Efficient use of raw materials, less wastage, short turnaround cycle and the use of non-metals and petroleum based raw materials all play a significant role in minimizing the carbon footprint.
5. Hybrid Component Building
3D objects can be used in tandem with components built using conventional or traditional methods. In a way it offers the best of both worlds. Intricate components can be developed using a 3D printer and later screwed, bolted or simply snapped into place. This kind of marriage lasts long, offers efficient functioning and also results in an improved look and feel of the finished product.
6. Quick Prototyping for Moulds
Casting moulds typically require intricate machining, polishing and hours of manpower. Once a cast is build it is then used to mass produce an object by pouring liquid metal. However, prototyping or building cast through 3D printer is quick, accurate and offers higher finish quotient. Lower development costs add yet another dimension to its range of features. No wonder then more and more multi national manufacturing companies are exploiting 3D printer for rapid prototyping jobs.
7. A Range Of Input Materials
A 3D printer as mentioned above has evolved greatly in terms of materials which can be used to create objects. These are innovative materials which cannot be exploited via traditional production techniques. It simply means products can now be created from materials which have amazing heat and shatter resistant properties. Some of these materials complement new electroplating techniques which make them even stronger and glamorous. All this adds to the value of the final product in terms of looks and durability.
8. Lower Inventory
Because components can be quickly manufactured, enterprises don’t need to stock such spares in huge quantities. This also means reduced warehousing space, decreased rent and reduced loss in case the concerned component needs to be upgraded or modified for enhancing its look or functionality. Manufacturing fewer numbers will not increase its cost.
9. Intricate Shapes
3D printer allows manufacturers to create intricate and complex patterns with minimum fuss. Normally, complicated components or objects are built using interconnected parts. However, this technique offers poor results in terms of finish and strength. With a 3D printer even thin, thread like cross sections, resembling mesh or honey bee nest can be created quickly, and too with a high degree of resistance to rupture.
This happens because of the cutting tool of a 3D printer which can be replaced depending on the product being designed. These nozzles are sharp, strong and have remarkable and accurate reach.
A 3D printer offers two distinct scenarios as far as manpower advantage is concerned.
a. It reduces work force to a large extent as every step involved is automated.
b. It also means hiring children to run traditional and dangerous production machines which is rampant is certain countries will slowly become extinct as more and more manufacturers turn towards 3D printing.