Three-dimensional Printing (3D) printing is a process of creating three-dimensional objects from a digital model. The 3D printer deposits successive thin layers of materials, usually plastics or metals, until the object is complete.
3D Printing is also known as additive manufacturing because it adds material instead of removing it, making it different from traditional manufacturing processes, which involve taking a large block of material and sculpting it into the desired shape.
The advent of 3D printing technology has brought about tremendous benefits for industrial users. Over the years, additive manufacturing has contributed substantially to helping industries create prototypes and models of their products before they go into full-fledged production. As a result, they save time and resources by avoiding the need to create costly physical prototypes.
3D Printing services are growing more popular by the day, with more Industries starting to recognize all of the fantastic benefits this technology offers. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most interesting applications of 3D printing in 10 different industries.
The aerospace industry was one of the first industries to start using 3D printing technology to create prototypes and models of their products. The 3D Printing industry has greatly benefitted aerospace companies by saving them a lot of time and money through low-volume production, drastically reducing the lead time for creating prototypes.
In addition, 3D Printing is used to create final parts for use in aircraft and spacecraft. For instance, Airbus has used 3D-printed components in their aircraft for over a decade. The company has used 3D-printed parts in many applications in their aircraft, including brackets, hinges, and latch shafts.
Another significant benefit of using 3D Printing, which Airbus utilizes for its aircraft production, is that it helps to reduce emissions. 3D Printing processes produce far less waste than traditional manufacturing methods.
For instance, traditional methods often have excess material that needs to be disposed of properly. However, this manufacturing technology produces very little waste since everything is printed on demand.
3D Printing also helps to reduce the weight of aircraft parts. This is because 3D-printed parts are usually lighter than their traditional counterparts. Lighter parts mean the aircraft consumes less fuel, leading to reduced emissions.
The automotive industry is another major user of 3D printing technology. The technology is used extensively in the automotive sector to create prototypes and 3D models of cars and other vehicles.
Some automotive companies extensively utilize 3D Printing, from tools to spare parts/supply chain management to end-use parts and even full cars. The big names in the industry making use of this technology include;
BMW is a renowned figure in the automotive industry that has been using 3D printing technology for a while now. The company uses 3D Printing extensively in its production process, from rapid prototyping to creating final car parts.
In fact, BMW was one of the first companies to 3D print a car. The company 3D printed an electric car called the i3 in 2013. This car was made using a combination of traditional manufacturing methods and 3D printing technology.
As far as the 3D industry is concerned, the American automotive giant Ford is a big name. The company has been using 3D printing technology for over 35 years now and has even set up its own 3D printing lab.
Ford is one of the first companies to adopt additive manufacturing, having purchased a stereolithography machine (the first ever made) in 1986. Since then, Ford has produced hundreds of thousands of 3D-printed parts yearly. In order to continue its success with 3D printing, Ford has partnered with carbon and Stratasys – two leading 3D printer manufacturers.
Ford uses 3D Printing extensively in its production process, from prototyping to creating final car parts. The Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 is one example of a car with parts fabricated using 3D printers.
Another company that has put 3D printing technology to good use is Volvo. The Swedish company started using 3D Printing in 2015 and has since used it largely in its production process.
Volvo has been experimenting with 3D printing technology for prototyping and identifying chances to enhance quality in the manufacturing process. Some 3D-printed parts by Volvo include Roof seal gauges, brake piston gauges, luggage door gap gauges, brake fitting gauges, fuse installation platens and power steering adapter holders.
3D Printing has been revolutionary for the medical industry as it significantly reduces manufacturing costs for surgical instruments and other medical devices. It also allows for mass customization of braces, aligners, dentures, and crowns in the dental industry.
The capabilities of 3D printing are many and diverse- one such area is the ability to make functional prosthetics at a fraction of the price. Another is the creation of organ replicas so that surgeons can better understand an upcoming operation and any potential problems they may face.
With the help of 3D printing technology, people can now replace lost or damaged limbs with artificial ones that behave just like natural ones do! A dentist may scan a broken tooth so he/she makes crowns perfectly fit into mouths.
A company called Organovo has even managed to 3D print human liver tissues and kidneys!
In the not-so-distant future, it may be possible to use a patient’s stem cells to create personalized medications and implants that are guaranteed to work with their bodies, as opposed to the hit-and-miss nature of finding compatible drugs with a patient’s system.
3D printing technology is not only changing the way we think about manufacturing. It also significantly impacts the construction industry with its many applications, such as creating models and building final parts.
Construction projects done manually often take months or even years to complete, but with 3D Printing applications, the same projects can be completed in a fraction of the time.
In 2017, the world’s first 3D-printed commercial building was completed in Dubai. The office building was 3D printed using a 20-foot tall printer. It was made using a unique mixture of cement and required 50% less workforce when compared with traditional building methods.
The building walls were printed using a concrete mixture, and the whole basic building process took 17 days to complete. It is 20ft high, 120ft long, and 40ft wide.
Since then, other companies have followed suit, and 3D-printed buildings can now be found all over the world. These include a 12-meter 3D-printed bridge in Amsterdam, a 3D-printed house in Russia, and even a 3D-printed hotel in China.
3D Printing capabilities offer a versatile technology for the robotics industry. It allows for the creation of custom robotic parts and expensive components such as grippers and sensor mounts. This means robotics companies can create specifically designed robots for their needs, saving time and money.
In 2013, Boston Dynamics announced that it had created a 3D-printed robot called “Atlas”. The robot was made using a unique process that allows for the Printing of metal and plastic parts.
Atlas is designed to be used in a variety of applications, such as search and rescue, construction, and disaster response. The robot is also being developed for use in military missions.
6. Consumer Goods
Many companies have adopted 3D processes for their manufacturing solutions and the consumer goods industry is another sector that has been dramatically impacted by 3D printing technology.
Some of the most popular consumer goods made using 3D printers include; eyeglasses, shoes, furniture, toys, and even clothes. Shapeways has even set up an online platform that allows people to design and order their 3D-printed products.
Another company that is making use of 3D printing technology is Nike. The company has been using 3D printers to create prototypes of its shoes for years now. It was one of the first companies to experiment with using 3D-printed shoes in manufacturing.
Today, Nike is using 3D Printing to create the final parts for its shoes. The company has even released a line of shoes made entirely from 3D-printed parts. These include the Nike Zoom Vaporfly, which Eliud Kipchoge wore to run in the Berlin Marathon in 2017, and the Nike Flyprint.
3D technology is being used in schools worldwide to teach subjects such as; math, science, engineering, and even art. 3D-printed models and prototypes have helped students understand complex subjects better and have even allowed them to create their designs.
Students can now materialize physical objects inside their minds into real things they can feel and touch through 3D innovation.
Three-dimensional printing allows instructors to create models of complex ideas and objects, which enhances the learning process by making it more fun and exciting. Not only that, but this type of hands-on learning also improves long-term memory retention.
Studies have shown that when students can see and touch the items they are studying, they have a better chance of remembering the information than if they had merely learned about it through words alone. This is because tactile learning helps to stimulate different parts of the brain responsible for memory recall and knowledge acquisition.
In addition, 3D Printing is used to create customized learning materials for each student; students can receive materials specifically designed for their individual needs and learning styles.
8. Food and Beverage
Since the 3D Printing process became popular in the 2010s, adopters have used it to create various food and beverage products, such as chocolate, pizza, burgers, pasta, beer, and cocktails. It has helped decrease production costs and reduce time to market.
Chocolate Company TNO was one of the first companies to experiment with 3D-printed food. The company partnered with printer manufacturer Ultimaker to create a 3D-printed chocolate bar. The bar was made using a chocolate mixture extruded from a 3D printer.
Ever since other companies have been experimenting with 3D-printed food as well, in 2017, Burger King teamed up with 3D Systems to create the world’s first 3D-printed burger. The burger was made using a special beef patty designed using a 3D printer.
3D Printing offers a flexible food production system. It allows companies to create customized products quickly and cheaply. Additionally, it helps reduce waste as mistakes in production can be easily corrected.
9. Art and Architecture
Artists are using 3D printers to create sculptures and other works of art. Meanwhile, architects are using 3D printing applications to create models of buildings and other structures.
In 2014, artist Joshua Harker created the world’s first 3D-printed sculpture. Dutch artist M. C. Escher inspired the work. Escher is known for his optical illusion artworks, which often feature impossible geometric shapes.
10. Jewelry Industry
With 3D Printing, casting is much cheaper, easier, and faster. The technology has been used to create a variety of different pieces, including rings, pendants, and earrings.
Jewelers use CAD software tools to create the designs digitally and a high-resolution 3D printer to produce the 3D printed patterns that can then be cast in the mold. The advantage of using a 3D printer is that it can create very intricate designs that would be impossible to produce using traditional manufacturing methods.
FAQs on What Industries Use 3D Printing?
The 3D printing industry has a lot of potential for different types of businesses. Some of the more popular applications include:
4. Consumer goods
5. Food and beverage
7. Art and Architecture
8. Jewelry industry
3D Printing offers versatile technology for a variety of industries. It allows for the creation of custom parts and components, which can save companies time and money. Additionally, it helps reduce waste as any mistakes can be easily corrected.
3D Printing is used in a variety of industries, but mostly in aerospace, automotive, food and beverage, robotics, and healthcare. It is also used in the arts and architecture.
The popularity depends on the industry. In the aerospace industry, 3D-printed parts are commonly used. In the medical field, 3D-printed prosthetics and implants are popular items. And in the consumer goods industry, 3D-printed phone cases and other accessories are becoming increasingly popular.
3D Printing technology is employed by various industries to manufacture an array of items, as you have seen in our top 10 list. It bestows businesses with conveniences such as flexibility, minimized waste, lessened labor fees, and personalization.
If your goal is to find inventive technology to assist your business in reducing costs and boosting productivity, investing in 3D Printing may be the answer.