What are the Benefits to 3D Printing?

Posted on February 20th, 2015 by Justin Powell in Basics, Technology | Comments Off

The New Era of Printing

While 3D printing has been around for a long time, it hasn’t been made mainstream until recently with the newer models being much easier to understand and more affordable for the home-based user and start-up project applications. The market for 3D printers is becoming more saturated with healthy competition while the materials to make items are becoming less expensive. Newer models of 3D printers come with their own built in software for standalone work as well as allowing compatibility with the popular 3D software rendering programs on the market. As businesses invest more into the 3D printing industry, we’ll start to see companies produce both less expensive models as well as highly intricate models for the professional field. There’s also a very healthy market of start up businesses looking for crowdfunding to help etch their mark in the newly formed 3D printing industry. With all this sudden surge of 3D technology, one may ask, “What benefits could these printers yield for me?” The answer to this is simply amazing.

Customization

3D printers bring a new level of customization to the market. End users are able to put their own personalization on their projects and still have the same minimal cost going into the project with every single change they make along the production process. Manufacturers usually charge hundreds of dollars to change a prototype in the middle of production. Now, those production costs are taken out of the equation altogether.

Fast Turnaround

3D printing is a fast paced means of production. Where once you had to wait weeks for a manufacturer to finish quality proofing, you can wait literally minutes for a prototype you put the finishing touches on the same day. If you’re a business, you have less overhead costs tied up in finished goods for a demand you’re unsure you can sell. You can make on-demand stock for when you gain demand and save on warehouse costs for storage.

Less Waste

There’s less waste associated with 3D printing. The process used to create a 3D project is additive, where nothing is unused in the production of the piece you’re making. This process is much more beneficial than the original way of manufacturing, which is subtractive. In the older way of manufacturing, you create more than what you need and polish and remove bits and pieces until the project is done. If you don’t use a material that can be recycled, then you’re literally subtracting money from your project.

Accessibility

One of the best aspects of 3D printing is the fact that more people have accessibility to it. If you own a computer, you can own and operate your own 3D printer. If you can’t afford your own 3D printer, there’s no need to be discouraged. Many cities are starting tech workshops where you can rent out a time slot for 3D printing. If you can’t find a local workshop, try your local library! Many libraries are catching on to 3D printing because it teaches fundamental math and engineering skills.

Fewer Limitations

With 3D printing, your imagination is really the limit when it comes to the shapes you can make. Traditional methods of production would need multiple processes to achieve these shapes. Now they can be created with ease.

As 3D printing grows in popularity, it’s certain we’ll see more common, traditional methods of manufacturing get thrown out the window to new techniques brought on by the 3D printers we see today. I’m fully expecting the future to bring actual metal molding 3D printing into the light. Expect easier to learn 3D programs or programs with full capabilities right on your internet browser. Expect more model sharing between people. Who knows, we may even see an 3D print integration in Microsoft’s new HoloLens!

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