According to Wohlers (2014), we are ushering a new era of production know as 3D printing, a more digital production technique that addresses the challenges faced by traditional manufacturing methods that have changed the economic status of the world as stated by Weller, Kleer, and Piller ( 2015). The article therefore, examines the reasons that make 3D printing to be popularly referable as additive manufacturing, the suitability of the technique in terms of the level of production. The articles further examines the various areas of forecast by the leading firms that uses the technique and the traditional manufacturing that might be obsolete
3D printing a system developed initially by Charles Hull in 1984 is definable as a process of using digital file to make three dimensional solid objects by laying down successive layers of material (Lipson, 2014). On the other hand, additive manufacturing refers to the production process through building consecutive segments of a foamless material from the powder to have various shapes of objects. The additive manufacturing system begins by application of powder material to the building platform that is fusible together by a powerful laser beam. On top of the layer, addition of another layer of powder followed by fusion so as to bond both the segments more strongly. As 3D focuses more on generating the prints through the use of the computer, the assembly of the final object is through the use of additive method thereby making the two terms of being interchangeably and appropriately used to refer to one another. Additive manufacturing is increasingly in use in a series of production by the provision of the opportunity to create a distinctive profile based on the new customer benefits, cost-saving potential. Therefore, both the 3D printing and additive printing are almost the same with the difference only on the application of the individual process machine and the result (Majunder et at., 2016).
3D printing is more suitable for low volumes production because of a number of reason explained.As much as 3D printing process allows the creation of the parts in pieces for later assembly, the final stage always tends to be tiresome and labor extensive in joining the parts (Tibbits, 2016). The 3D printing process does not require retooling in between productions runs thus the speed of assembling the objects in comparison to the traditional manufacturing tends to be lower. The low rate is as a result of each object requiring joining of successive layers at each time; with each new layer placed on top of the previous layer thereby taking a long time to produce a large number of products than when a few products is required. 3D printing is also most suitable for low volume production since the process cost on one item is always constant no matter the quantity of production, therefore when it comes to mass production such as injection moldings, it will be more costly than when the traditional manufacturing method is in use.
In the healthcare sector, 3D printer’s versatility is very evidential in a great number of ways such as surgical aspects (Hornick, 2017). Today Surgeons are making plans of the operations by producing and reviewing the 3D printed replica of the physical problem that needs operation. Trough the method, it is easy for the surgeons to collect information on what the operational problem is thereby reducing the likely hood of any error. The 3D printing allows the production of the prosthetic limbs hence solving the issue to the individuals that are unable to cover the budget of contracting care as a result of the disability caused by the lack of any limb in the body. The 3D printed models also provide the medical students with a better and cheap way of studying the human anatomy other than requiring the cadavers for the same.
3D has revolutionaries learning system through by replacing the linear teaching methods with the two-dimensional thereby making it easy to grasp the concepts that historically been in perceptions to be difficult as students retain the ideas more easily. The interior designers build almost everything from the ottomans to enable them to set the tables and chairs choose suitable floor lamps, ceiling lights, and wall lights. 3D printing technique is also crucial for personal inventors and that individual that has the analogy of “Do it yourself” as they can develop the prototype of their ideas into the objects and they require without engaging the manufacturer and even run the test.
The leading companies that embrace 3D printing forecast in some issues such as the type of the printer, the type of the material, the amount to be customized and the cost of production. There are different types of printers and 3D printing technologies such as; stereo lithography that uses a UV laser beam to trace the first slice of an object on the surface thereby causing a fragile layer of photopolymer to harden. Fused deposition modeling is whereby hot thermoplastic excludes the print that its temperature is under control to produce fairly robust objects at a higher degree. The selective laser sintering technique builds objects through the use of a laser by selectively fusing together the successive layers of cocktails of powdered wax, metal, nylon, and ceramic. The investments companies also focus on the size and volume of the objects produced, since when the large capacity is in need within a short period, the cost of production tends to be higher than the traditional method hence making.
According to Campbell, Williams, Ivanova and Garrett ( 2011), in the present day, about 0.01 of all manufactured products are 3-D printed showing that the technology significantly used to create prototypes enabling companies to transform the nature of production to more efficient and cost-effective ( Gordon, 2015). Research shows that about 30% of the spare parts suppliers currently are unable to meet the consumer’s demand, therefore, forcing most companies and people of about 47% that use the spare parts to embark on personal production through the use of 3D as stated by past research. As a result, the spare parts supplier tend to lose customers making the high probability of them adopting the same technique of 3D printing in the next few years. The ultimate effect will be that the production and supply-demand will be equitable and more customized products received with the shortest time possible.
3D printing and additive manufacturing method go hand in hand as both include the fusion of layers on top of previous layers to achieve a specified object. The technique has a significant number of advantages that all aim at reducing the lead time, reducing the cost of production, facilitating innovation, reducing the workloads and also improving on the volume of the outputs. Every company requires gauging on the extent of the production engaged so as appropriate decision is made. Therefore, companies with the aim of growing and capturing customer’s needs and values need to embrace the technique to continue remaining relevant in the rapidly changing technological market.
Gordon, R. (2015). Trends in Commercial 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing. 3D Printing And Additive Manufacturing, 2(2), 89-90. https://dx.doi.org/10.1089/3dp.2015.28999.rgo
Hornick, J. (2017). 3D printing in Healthcare. Journal Of 3D Printing In Medicine, 1(1), 13-17. https://dx.doi.org/10.2217/3dp-2016-0001
Lee, C., & Sohn, J. (2014). Plans for 3D printers Diffusion -Focusing on production figures-. Journal Of Digital Convergence, 12(9), 335-341. https://dx.doi.org/10.14400/jdc.2014.12.9.335
Lipson, H. (2014). Welcome to3DP. 3D Printing And Additive Manufacturing, 1(1), 1-1. https://dx.doi.org/10.1089/3dp.2013.1501
Majumdar, B., Baer, D., Chakraborty, S., Esselle, K., & Heimlich, M. (2016). Advantages and limitations of 3D printing a dual-ridged horn antenna. Microwave And Optical Technology Letters, 58(9), 2110-2117. https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mop.30026
Sirichakwal, I., & Conner, B. (2016). Implications of Additive Manufacturing for Spare Parts Inventory. 3D Printing And Additive Manufacturing, 3(1), 56-63. https://dx.doi.org/10.1089/3dp.2015.0035
Tibbits, S. (2016). Printing Products. 3D Printing And Additive Manufacturing, 3(3), 135-135. https://dx.doi.org/10.1089/3dp.2016.29005.sti
Wohlers, T. (2014). Tracking Global Growth in Industrial-Scale Additive Manufacturing. 3D Printing And Additive Manufacturing, 1(1), 2-3. https://dx.doi.org/10.1089/3dp.2013.0004
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