10 Reasons Why 3D Printing is Revolutionizing Manufacturing
3D printing is a method of creating objects by progressively building up layers of material. This kind of additive manufacturing works in the opposite way from traditional production methods such as machining, milling, carving, and sculpting, all of which fall under the banner of subtractive manufacturing. The additive nature of 3D printing, as well a number of other key characteristics, gives it significant advantages over more traditional types of production. Below we will describe 10 reasons why 3D printing is revolutionizing manufacturing, and why we at ProtoFab are so excited to be operating at the cutting edge of this new technology.
1: Adding complexity doesn’t mean adding cost
Traditional subtractive manufacturing has a key limitation, the more complex the design the higher the cost. This is due to higher use of materials, as well as an increase in the length of the process and the additional labor costs involved. With 3D printing it doesn't matter how simple or how complex a design is, the process and the costs remain unchanged. An ultra-complex interlocking lattice is no different in principle from a simple cube. What may seem like a minor detail is in fact revolutionary when it comes to costing and completely removes the need to produce economical designs at the expense of detail or complexity.
2: No need for assembly
3D printing can produce complete products as a single piece, rather than having to produce individual parts separately and then assemble them later. For example, in traditional manufacturing, a doll was usually produced by making the head, body, and limbs individually and then assembling them into a complete doll. Not only did this take longer and impose restrictions on design, it also resulted in a lower quality final product with obvious join lines and the potential for limbs to become detached. A 3D printed doll with moveable limbs can be produced quickly and with none of the drawbacks described above. Removing the need for assembly also saves labor costs and simplifies the supply chain.