How will 3D printing revolutionize manufacturing?

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Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2016 9:03 am

How will 3D printing revolutionize manufacturing?

Post by 3dtech »

3D printing is just another technology for manufacture. It has strengths and weaknesses, so it really depends on what you want to use it for.

If you have a low stressed part, that's an odd shape, that you don't need many of or don't need them quickly - . This is why it's great for prototype work, where you're iterating different designs, trying things out. You can't tool up for this, it's too expensive. 3d printing is perfect.


If you have a highly stressed part, with close tolerances, and you need 20,000 of them made a month - not 3d printing. Far too slow, far too inaccurate, and the material properties may not be what you need.

Interestingly, one of the weakest areas of 3D printing is the design phase. 3D printing is very good at producing organic shapes, where material is only used at the areas of stress and removed where it isn't. Think of a coral reef - that sort of structure. Unfortunately, that kind of structure is (at the moment) rather hard to model in 3D in CAD software. CAD is structured towards the kind of shapes that traditional machining can deal with - straight lines, prismatic shapes and so on. The next big step for 3D printing will be the development of CAD systems that can really exploit the potential it has

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Re: How will 3D printing revolutionize manufacturing?

Post by cheapo »

Personally I think it'll be quite a while before 3D printing has any effect on general manufacturing. As you mentioned, high volume, close tolerance, mechanically strong parts, will still need to be machined for now. I work in precision engineering and although our boss added a 3D printer to the list of machines in the building, our CNC mills (my job) and CNC lathes are producing thousands of parts, some of them with super fine 0.005mm limits. We machine stainless steel, aluminium, copper, brass, aluminium, steel, iron (very occasionally), aluminium, nickel alloys, ABS, Nylon, Delrin, aluminium, PTFE. ( did I mention aluminium ) ;) But quite a lot of our contracts bring in low volume orders of 100 pieces, down to 20 pieces and obviously prototyping as well.
Having said all that, I realize that metal deposition printing should become a fairly major part of prototyping, even if final finish and dimensions are carried out on traditional mills and lathes.
If only SLA printing could be made to be dimensionally stable during final curing, it could be amazing, with it's micron detail ability!

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