Recent technological developments have helped advance the state of 3D design and printing services. This has added greater versatility and dropped costs significantly. It has also created new possibilities for more industries to tap into their limitless potential.
3D design and printing services have provided significant benefits to manufacturing. These benefits include:
- More custom-built products
- Greater mass customization
- New design possibilities
- Almost no setup costs
- Reduced development costs
- Integration with smart manufacturing and industry 4.0
Such benefits are now finding their way to other industries. 3D design and printing deliver an agile development process. This accelerates production and manufacturing, resulting in a shortened time to market for new products.
There are many beneficiaries of 3D design and printing services. Below, we look at five industries that have much to gain from this new era of creative technology.
1. Medical and Dental
3D design and printing are assuming an important role in the healthcare industry. Across a wide range of segments, from medical devices to prosthetics, 3D technology is driving change and innovation.
Medical device manufacturers are turning to 3D printing to keep prices low and increase product diversity.
3D technology greatly simplifies the production process for many medical sectors. This has ushered in a new era of efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Biomedicine, for example, is an enthusiastic adopter of 3D technology.
3D bioprinters will soon be capable of bioprinting organs and organoids (mini organs). This will transform the organ transplant landscape, facilitating greater organ replacement efficiency and cost savings for organ patients.
2. Automotive and Transportation
Without a doubt, automotive is one of the biggest beneficiaries of 3D design and printing services.
3D technology’s disruptive nature is being used to great effect throughout the automotive industry. Currently, 3D technology is being used for on-demand replacement parts, prototyping purposes, and reshaping the automotive product cycle.
But the incredible acceleration of 3D technology is opening new opportunities.
In 2014, Arizona-based car manufacturer Local Motors introduced the first ever 3D printed electric vehicle. This adventurous endeavor showcased just how 3D technology could shift automotive manufacturing to a whole new gear.
3. Aviation and Aerospace
The evolving nature of 3D technology has made it an airworthy manufacturing process for the aerospace industry. Across all departments, from commercial to military, 3D printing applications is taking flight.
Indeed, 3D technology is contributing heavily to new innovations and capabilities.
Airbus, a leading aerospace corporation, has employed 3D technology on its new A350 XWB aircraft. Over 1,000 3D printed parts can be found on the new A350 jet. These printed parts reduced the overall weight of the jet, increasing aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.
Such an example is a significant step up from traditional manufacturing processes, many of which are expensive. 3D technology provides dynamic solutions to aerospace, streamlining supply chains and improving manufacturing processes.
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4. Electronics and Prototyping
The maturity of 3D design and printing services has opened new possibilities in the world of electronics. A wider choice of materials used in 3D printing and new applications enables manufacturing companies to 3D print fully functional electromechanical parts.
This has become a great boon for electronics and consumer products.
In terms of product innovation in electronics, many industry analysts predict 3D printing to be the next high-growth application. New developments in 3D printing enable the technology to manufacture numerous component parts.
Examples of potential applications implementing 3D printing include:
- Lithium batteries
- Camera modules
- Cell phone antennas
- Sensor structures
These examples highlight the diversity of 3D printing. These 3D printed electromechanical products are applicable to numerous industries, including (but not limited to) aerospace, automotive, and telecommunications.
5. Plumbing and Construction
3D printing has maintained a presence in the construction industry since 2004 when the first 3D printed wall was attempted at the University of South Carolina. While novel at the time, 3D technology has become a mainstay in the construction industry.
It is predicted that 3D technology will replace traditional manufacturing techniques such as plumbing fixtures and concrete panels. The use of 3D manufacturing reduces materials, labor costs, and environmental impact.
It will also positively contribute to less downtime and repeatable quality.
What’s next for 3D printing?
3D design and printing is no longer the technology of the future. It is the technology of today, and it is here to stay. While these industries showcase how 3D technology has contributed to new technological processes, only time will tell how deep of an impact 3D technology will have.
What remains to be seen is how other industries will experiment and adopt 3D technology to optimize workflows and streamline traditional manufacturing processes.