Industrial applications of 3D printing are rapidly emerging and transforming the way industry operates. One of the areas that is currently experiencing a lot of growth is in aerospace. The ability to quickly prototype replacement parts has enabled greater efficiency and reduced waste in production facilities. This post will go through some examples of 3D printed parts and the benefits they offer, as well as how this technology will revolutionize manufacturing in the future.
3D Printing: A Game Changer for Manufacturing?
Rapidly growing use of 3D printing by manufacturers could have far-reaching consequences. Industrial engineers foresee more savings being passed on to consumers while factories increase production capacity at reduced costs and with less wasted materials or energy use.
One of the most exciting developments in 3D printing is its ability to be used for aerospace components and parts. The ability to create prototype parts throughout the design and manufacturing process has enabled quicker iterations and faster production times. Some projects have been able to see up to 50% reduction in time and money spent on production of these parts.
But this is just a small example of the possibilities 3D printing brings. New materials, such as graphene, are being researched that will allow us to make aircrafts that are stronger than steel or titanium while being smoother, lighter, and more flexible than rubber. This combination makes jet planes take off faster, fly higher, and require less fuel for propulsion while they are in flight.
One of the major benefits of 3D printing in the aerospace industry is its ability to print lightweight, high strength components. Lightweighting has long been an issue with the manufacturing of aircraft, but 3D printing can potentially reduce weight by 50%. This reduction in weight allows for greater fuel efficiency and reduced operating costs. By being able to print more parts with more materials, 3D printing enables engineers to create prototype parts that are customized for individual aircrafts. Thus, they are able to create lighter planes without sacrificing performance or safety.
Faster Delivery: Reducing Production Times
In a normal manufacturing process, it often takes months and years before new products are delivered to market after the final design is completed. 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital 3D model by laying down successive layers of material. The technique has been around for decades, but it's only recently that the technology has proven to be cost effective and accessible enough for widespread commercial and industrial use.
3D printing has already been used in aerospace and automotive industries, but there are a variety of other industries that are currently being explored. For instance, Boeing uses the technology to create parts for its commercial 747-8 aircraft. Likewise, Mazda uses it to make prototypes for its sports cars and the Nissan Leaf electric car. Hewlett-Packard uses it to build computer cartridges with complex shapes.
Plastics, due to their malleability and low cost compared with metals, are popular 3D printing materials among consumers as well. And now 3D printers can be found in homes as well as industrial facilities.
The technology is still relatively new, so there's plenty of room for growth in the years ahead. Consumers will be ready for it, but 3D printers are still expensive and difficult to use. As a result, they'll remain in industrial settings for the time being.
Early 3D printing technology was specialized and required extensive training to use properly. In order to minimize the damage of haphazard printing, the parts have to be very detailed models with identical features and perfect dimensions. To print something like an iPhone from scratch would cost millions of dollars.
Current 3D printers are capable of producing products that are functional much faster than in previous years, but they still take a long time to produce complex models: sometimes even years or more from design to market due to procurement and post-processing costs.