3D Printing New Possibilities in Manufacturing & Design
3D Printing – Advancing Technology
3D Printing brings new possibilities in design and manufacturing that were previously unavailable
3D printing has managed to bring various new possibilities in terms of design, prototyping and manufacturing. The availability of precise 3D printing and materials in a short span of time has been responsible for various leaps in a range of industries.
Here are some of the things that 3D printing has made possible that only years ago was considered impossible.
Bones and Organs
3D printing has evolved in the range of what it can potentially create and the materials that can be used have also opened up a lot of possibilities. We’ve seen 3D printers create dental replacements, prosthetics, some very specific bone replacements and even models of specific patient’s physiography to enable doctors to practice complex surgery before getting into the operating room.
Thanks to super-accurate CT scans and corresponding 3D printing technology it Is possible to replicate various organs to improve or even save lives. We’ve seen a gamut of revolutionary medical applications ranging from teeth and jaw molds and even surgical stents. A medical company Organovo started selling 3D-printed liver tissue. It will be a while before a fully functioning liver can be printed, but it’s a big step in the right direction, even if it just means prototypes and experimental liver-like structures.
Personalized Car Parts
Anyone who is involved in car manufacturing will tell you that 3D printing has revolutionized the industry. With some of today’s 3D printers and materials, it is now possible to create compatible replacement parts and even modified parts for specific automotive applications.
Various items that used to be created by Injection Moulding, can now be designed on a PC and printed out in less than a day. Testing and correction in this 3D printed model is more cost efficient and way faster, which makes it possible to focus very specific qualities (i.e. heat resistance, flexibility, light weight, tensile strength) without the need of placing an order for several dozen units which can take months to mold and mass produce.
“3D printing bridges the gap between the digital and the physical world,” says Jonathan Jaglom, CEO of 3D printer manufacturer MakerBot, “and lets you design pretty much anything in digital form and then instantly turn it into a physical object.”
Manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz, Lamborghini and BMW have already shown examples of how 3D printing can be beneficial.
Aerospace and Aviation
3D Printing for vehicles hasn’t been limited to the automotive industry. Aviation has reaped a lot of the benefits of on-spec 3D printing. When it comes to airplanes and jets, lighter is better and 3D-printed materials have been able to cut weight by up to 55 per cent, which is remarkable.
Adoption of 3D technologies in the aerospace and aviation has been more dramatic than for the automotive industry. A whole 3D-printed jet engine was recently unveiled in Australia.
3D-printed polymers often have “high strength to weight ratios,” says Kristine Relja, marketing manager at Carbon3D, the same company that’s working with Ford on the 3D-printed car parts. 3D-printed plane parts use that strength-to-weight ratio to their advantage. It gives them an edge over traditional materials, like the aluminum often found in seat frames.
“If the arm rest of each seat of a plane were replaced with a high strength to weight ratio part, the overall weight of the plane would drop, increasing fuel efficiency and lowering the overall cost of the plane,” Relja says.
These are just some of the ways that 3D printing technologies and materials have brought new possibilities in various industries.