3D Printing in Manufacturing: Visualizing A New Mode of Prod

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3D Printing in Manufacturing: Visualizing A New Mode of Prod

Postby 3dtech » Wed Oct 03, 2018 10:21 pm

The role of 3D printing in the manufacturing process

3D printing already plays several roles in the manufacturing process, and it is poised to make further gains as it is refined and perfected. Currently, design and rapid prototyping are two of the main processes that benefit from 3D prints. 3D printers are also useful in low-volume production, such as when small amounts of product are needed to test the market or advertise at trade shows. And as time goes on, 3D printers' production capabilities continue to scale.

In every facet of manufacturing, 3D printers can reduce the time and cost required to achieve a viable product. That is why Jack Beuth, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University's College of Engineering and co-director of the NextManufacturing Center, believes 3D printing should be considered a brand-new technology on the level of personal computing or smartphones.


Because 3D printers are a more flexible technology, design teams can experiment with structures that are stronger or more interesting, and create complex geometric shapes that previous methods were incapable of realizing.


3D printers have also greatly reduced the time it takes to create a working prototype of a product. Cheaper, quicker prototype creation speeds up product development, reducing costs across the board and hastening the total time to market.

"3D printing is used extensively for prototyping in product development today to accelerate design cycles and enable designers to efficiently explore multiple options," said Dr. Paul Benning, HP fellow and 3D print chief technologist at HP Inc. "Typically, these designs were manufactured in analog processes like injection molding, but in the future, parts will be manufactured using 3D print."
Low-volume production

While 3D printers currently beat conventional methods for the first several thousand parts produced, that number is steadily rising, painting the picture of a 3D printed manufacturing future.

A mass-production future?

As time goes on, the number of parts 3D printers can take on while boasting a greater ROI than conventional methods like injection molding continues to grow, Regnier said. Moreover, a production line based on 3D printing technology is easier to tweak.
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"I think one of the main advantages … is to be able to adjust and adapt the whole production line with the speed of the 3D printing production lines," Regnier said. "For example, if we want to improve something on our machine, it's easy - it's just one click away. For another technology like injection, it's not one click away; it's two to three months away. You'd have to change molds, ship it, make sure it's ready and working, and then start producing."


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