While many people think of 3D printing technology as cutting-edge and new, the reality is that the process has been around since the 1980s. It was conceptualized by Hideo Kodama, who published a paper on the use of photopolymer technology to create 3D models in 1981. Since then, 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, has developed in leaps and bounds, becoming easier, faster, and more accessible than ever before. Let’s take a look at just some of the ways that 3D printing is changing our lives today.
Prototyping Is Faster (And Cheaper)
Creating and testing prototypes is an important aspect of manufacturing in various industries. Traditionally, the prototyping process has been a long, complex, and expensive process, requiring experts from various industries to come together to create a single working model. However, thanks to the advancement of 3D printing technology, in particular rapid prototyping, the time it will take to go from concept to physical product is dictated only by the amount of time needed to design the part and a few hours for the actual print to take place.
Engaging with 3D prototyping experts can help reduce the amount of time taken to design a new part as well as test it for flaws and improvements. The Rapid PSI rapid prototyping process, for example, ensures a fast turnaround time, quality prints, and frequent updates, so you can create the best possible prototype for your needs.
Sourcing Spares Is as Easy as Finding the Right Model
As more and more businesses turn to machinery to do many of the processes that used to be done by people, the demand for readily available spare parts for the many different types of machines used to manufacture goods is growing. However, the process of making spares — particularly complex, specially machined parts — is often time-consuming and expensive, especially if only a single part is required. Enter 3D-printed spares. With just the right material and model, or the know-how to create a new model, spare part manufacturers can supply any make or model machine with whatever spares it may need in less time than ever before, meaning less downtime overall. These spares include everything from basic components for standard farm equipment to aerospace parts for airplanes.
A New Era of Construction
One of the newer uses of 3D printing, but one that has gained a lot of exposure thanks to its potential to help put an end to one of America’s biggest problems, is the ability to 3D print homes from scratch. One example of a company using this technology right here at home is the Iowa-based Alquist 3D, which promises to create sustainable, innovative, and, importantly, affordable housing for families using custom-built machines that “print” in concrete. The process involves laying layers upon layers of concrete down over a pre-determined path to create the walls of the home. This process requires only a single machine and an operator, rather than a full team of builders, taking much of the cost out of building a new structure.
While 3D printing technology has been around for a few decades already, the constant innovations and improvements made in the space have resulted in several exciting new uses for additive manufacturing. It is exciting to think about what the future may bring for this technology.