4 Industries Leveraging 3D Printing Technology
3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. 3D printing has come a long way since it was first developed in the 1980s. Initially, 3D printing was utilized for rapid prototyping, it has now evolved to cover a number of different technologies.
Though the technology evolving in emerging markets has seen rapid growth of companies adopting the technology. The applications and use cases may vary across industries by the material. Having said the technology has broadly included tooling aids, visual and functional prototypes and even end parts.
The potential applications for 3D printing increase, companies finding ways to restructure business models and opportunities with the technology.
The current state of 3D printing across the range of industries including how the technology is being used across sectors. Major industries that saw a spike in adoption are.
- Aerospace & Defense
- Industrial Manufacturing
Aerospace & Defense:
As you might know aerospace and defence are one of the early adopters of this technology going back to 1989. Initially, this technology was actively used for R&D purpose and later the same technology was used for creating functional prototypes, tooling and lightweight components which is a holy grail in the aerospace industry.
Another important part of 3D printing technology, it helps in optimizing material usage as printing takes place layer by layer. Material advancement is also proving to be a more viable composed of the aerospace industry.
Application: Real-life case
When it comes to designing commercial aircraft cabins for the likes of Boeing and Airbus, Jamco America turns to MakerBot METHOD to streamline its workflow.
Jamco America is a commercial aircraft interiors company based in Everett, Washington that designs and manufactures products such as premium seating, and many other cabin furnishings for commercial aerospace clients like Airbus and Boeing. The company also works directly with airlines doing modifications to retrofit their existing aircraft. Jamco America is the largest subsidiary of Tokyo-based Jamco and is made up of several small product development teams, with engineers who specialize in different product lines.
In an attempt, to reduce time, Jamco America spent a couple thousand dollars on an entry-level 3D printer. But the printer “did not have the balance between performance and cost,” says John Cornell, Manager of Product Research & Development. “It was always breaking down and producing parts that didn't have the quality that met our requirements.”
After comparing 15 printers, they landed on the MakerBot METHOD. “[METHOD] helped us improve our process to meet our goals of rapid prototyping and many iterations, very quickly.” The combination of a Circulating Heated Build Chamber and PVA water-soluble support material also enable industrial-level dimensional accuracy while printing highly complex geometries. Download your detailed case study!
Additive manufacturing and Automotive go together. According to Valuates Report forecast AM in Automotive revenue reaches $8.3billion by 2026 with a CAGR of 23.5% during 2021-2026. While we are seeing a significant increase in 3D printing technology where volume is less. No surprises it is the Motorsports and performance racing division of the automotive industry.
Having said, tooling is one of the primary applications of 3D printing in the automotive industry. The key benefits include prototyping, quick and cost-effective approach to designing and producing the parts with visual appeal, design flexibility and create and visualize complex parts without tooling. Since the tooling is eliminated the product development teams can compress the development cycles.
A detailed study done by the Deloitte University on automotive industry reveals how advances in 3D printing opened doors for newer designs; cleaner, lighter, and safer products; shorter lead times and lower costs. Learn more.
Automotive: Real-life application
As the saying goes “SPEED AND PERFORMANCE FOR AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERS” is key to market. Real-life application proves how compressed timeline can think of innovative process. “Moving faster is everything to us,” says Jeremy Godin, vice president of product for Mishimoto Automotive. The products they make — radiators, racing thermostats, intercoolers — enhance the performance of car engines, so their customers move faster. For car and racing enthusiasts, Mishimoto is almost like a pit crew, replacing their stock parts with better, higher performing products. But, like a pit crew, the leading manufacturer in aftermarket performance cooling products is always pushing to make their process faster and more efficient. “It’s all about speed to market,” says Godin, who compares the market to a “pie that nobody’s had a slice of yet. First person there gets the whole pie.” When Godin joined Mishimoto four years ago, some products took as much as two years to come to market. Now the development timeline is “a fraction of that,” he says. “A lot of that is through the tools that we’ve brought on site,” from coordinate measuring machines to 3D printers.
Mishimoto bought a MakerBot Replicator Z18. Its massive build volume means that Mishimoto can 3D print larger parts in a single piece, and MakerBot PLA Filament, which costs only a few cents per gram, meant that they could prototype more freely. Read More.
Nowadays, the 3D printing technology represents a big opportunity to help pharmaceutical and medical companies to create more specific drugs, enabling a rapid production of medical implants, and changing the way that doctors and surgeons plan procedures. Few other areas where 3D printing is vastly used are
- 3D printing for surgical preparation and learning tools
- 3D printing for prostheses
- 3D printing for tissues and organs
- 3D printing for medical tools & devices
- 3D printing for hearing aids
- 3D printing for dental applications.
- Recently to tackle COVID pandemic, MakerBot 3D printing division supported the medical community at this time to help combat the shortage of necessary supplies. As part of this effort MakerBot with a coalition of makers who are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by manufacturing, assembling, and distributing 3D printed protective gear to other parts to Frontline medical workers like face shields.
3D printing in industries is primarily used to produce complex parts, tooling, and the equipment used to produce the parts. For any industry tight timelines and product cost is always on the higher side. So, they need to look for opportunities to leverage different technology to keep costs and quality in check. The key benefits of 3D printing help manufacturers or OEMS is increasingly turning to 3D printing to stay agile and innovative.
Recently MakerBot released industrial grade 3D printers, which focuses on meeting advanced rapid prototyping for manufacturing with Method X manufacturing workstation. It is said it will challenge the traditional manufacturing with real ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) material, a 100-degree Celsius chamber, and Stratasys SR-30 soluble supports. Read more.
Conclusion: The way forward
3D printing has rapidly evolved, where numerous industrial products have been tested and successfully applied. Nevertheless, research on large-scale 3D printing, directed to large-scale applications such as construction and automotive manufacturing, yet demands a great deal of efforts. So does the effort is put in researching material that are viable and reliable for 3D printing.