It would be fair to say that 3D printing has taken the world by storm over the last few years.
As strange as it might sound, this has been something that has been around for almost fifty years. After all, it was all the way back in the 70s where the first 3D printers first started to emerge - although it would be fair to say that things have come on a lot since then!
It's meant that a whole new industry has been created, with companies like 3DCompare growing significantly as part of it. For the purposes of today we are going to look more in-depth at some of the reasons why 3D printing is soaring in popularity, and ultimately replacing those traditional manufacturing methods.
Single step manufacturing
If we were to hone in on just one reason why 3D printing is on the rise, there's a very good chance that single step manufacturing would take this mantle. In truth, this is something that affects a lot of issues, including cost.
In the past, the way in which manufacturing worked was for traditional machines to work alongside each other to produce one part. For example, one machine might cut some steel to the correct size, while another might then be responsible for welding it. This really is the tip of the iceberg, and shows just how many processes can be involved in the creation of that one, single part.
When it comes to 3D printing, all of this is condensed into one. The printer takes care of it all, and this is of huge relief to so many businesses who have had to invest in countless machines and processes over the years.
Following on from the previous point, this next one really won't come as a surprised. Single step manufacturing means that you tend to need less machinery and also, less workers.
There are other areas of cost to consider as well. Generally, a 3D printer will use significantly less energy than a traditional machine, but one area which you need to scrutinize in more detail is the material.
Some 3D printing resins can cost around $70/litre and when compared against some cheaper, traditional materials, this is a significant increase.
It can work the other way as well, but this is where companies need to conduct a thorough cost analysis.
Complete design freedom
Finally, let's talk about design freedom. 3D printing has resulted in designers having a lot more flexibility with what they are producing.
This isn't just because CAD software makes things a lot easier either. After all, parts are designed in the same way; whether or not they are being manufactured the traditional way or via a 3D printer.
Instead, it's more related to the fact that designers can quickly test individual components - setting them to print at a whim. This means that it is very quick to see if a complex, new design is going to function properly – or if it needs discarding immediately.