From Jet engine components to skin tissues, rapid prototyping or 3D printing has emerged as a disruptive technology, destined to transform the ways products are manufactured.
However, the major shift in manufacturing techniques poses questions on the adoption of this technology and the barriers that prevent manufacturers from considering 3D printing as a replacement to traditional manufacturing techniques.
While many consider the use of 3D printing only for building prototypes, there are few manufacturers who have begun incorporating rapid prototyping to develop marketable products.
A 2014 research survey from The Manufacturing Institute in collaboration with PwC titled “3D Printing and the New Shape of Industrial Manufacturing” showed that 66.7% of manufacturers are adopting 3D printing in some way (for experimenting, building prototypes and building final products). 24.7% of manufacturers are planning to adopt 3D printing in the future in some way.
In such an era of transformation in manufacturing, it is important for manufacturers to realize the potential of 3D printing and perform a self assessment by asking some core questions to exploit the additive manufacturing technology, expand business possibilities and stay competitive in the market.
Here’s a list of self-assessment questions that surround 3D printing technology:
While this is merely a small list of questions, manufacturers should themselves figure out their domain specific requirements and identify the feasibility of the 3D printing with those requirements before deciding to undergo transformation.
The problem with 3D printing technology is it is still evolving and bound to undergo many changes as new possibilities in material and equipment capability continue to improve.
In many cases, it is beneficial to partner with an engineering firm for rapid prototyping, where the requirement is to build few prototypes for testing or developing one-time complex and large product. This strategy also helps manufacturers with a clear perspective on whether to invest in this technology internally or not.
Gaurang Trivedi is engineering consultant. He has applied his engineering expertise across several highly complex and big scale projects, consequently managing to flawlessly deliver as per the client requirements.