Will 3D Printing Change the Face of Manufacturing?
New advances in manufacturing technology are helping to drive what many are calling a “manufacturing renaissance” in the United States. Among the new technologies are advances in manufacturing robotics, information technology, and even innovative combinations of nanotechnology and biotechnology. One major type of technology that is changing the face of manufacturing—from design all the way to actual production—is 3D printing.
3D printing—also known as “additive manufacturing”—is a technique for generating solid, three-dimensional objects based on digital models. While the technology has existed since the 1980s—the first 3D printer was created in 1984—it has only been in recent years that 3D printing has achieved a level of wide commercial availability. However, in those few years, 3D printing has already seen an explosion in different applications in a variety of fields, especially in medical manufacturing, where the availability of compact, commercial-grade 3D printers has allowed for, for instance, the easy creation of customized orthodontic appliances in-house.
The technology works by reading a digital model and then recreating that model in real space by laying down successive layers of a substance. Different printers can work in different materials, from liquids and powders to paper and sheet metal. Over the years, a variety of different methods of 3D printing have been developed, with different applications in different fields, depending on their various strengths and the materials used in production.
The first major uses of 3D printing in manufacturing were in the design phase. Early adopters of 3D printing technology have used it for prototyping for several years now. But as the technology’s other name would imply, 3D printing has many obvious and very persuasive applications in actual manufacturing production, as well.
While the application of 3D printing technology to manufacturing is still in its relative infancy, experts already believe that it has crossed the “chasm” in terms of adoption rates, and the possibilities of the technology are so vast that major increases in manufacturing applications seem inevitable. At the forefront of 3D printing manufacturing is 3D printing in metal, which many industry watchers believe will lead the revolution in 3D printing in terms of actual manufacturing applications. The advantages of being able to “print” three dimensional metal forms is obvious, and the possible uses are staggering. Meanwhile, experts remind us that 3D printing—especially when it comes to actual manufacturing applications—is still a relatively new technology, and there’s a lot to learn about just what it can be used to accomplish.
As advancing technology continues to transform the manufacturing landscape, companies will need to continue to innovate in order to stay on the vanguard of an ever changing marketplace. That’s why the Cleveland Deburring Machine Company offers reliable and cost-effective deburring machinery solutions that are always tailored to the needs of our customers.