In today’s tech-savvy world, there is a myriad of applications and software that are being released in the market every single day. One of which is the 3D printing technology.
3D technology has been incorporated in every type and aspect of the technology world. No wonder more and more 3D games and gaming experiences are being released. But aside from this, there is another thing that 3D technology has given — 3D printing technology.
Now, what is 3D printing and how does it work these days?
What is 3D Printing?
3D printing is the process wherein one can create a three-dimensional object by using a computer-aided design (CAD) model. In some companies, the 3D printing process is also called as an additive manufacturing — simply because of its simple procedure of successively adding material layer by layer. These layers are seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of your chosen eventual object. With this in mind, 3D printing is also considered as the opposite of subtractive manufacturing — which is cutting out a piece of material with for instance a milling machine.
When 3D printing is first introduced in the market, this kind of technique was only considered appropriate for the production of functional or aesthetic prototypes. In fact, 3D printing before was called rapid prototyping because of its overall process.
Nowadays, the word “3D printing” immensely covers a number of individual processes in which the materials that are used are either joined or solidified in layers under computer control to make a three-dimensional object.
What Are the Advantages of 3D Printing?
Utilizing the 3D printing technology can definitely provide various benefits for both individuals and businesses, which are as follows:
3D Printing = Faster Production
It is no great secret that using 3D printing is swifter than any conventional manufacturing — this includes injection molds and subtractive production. From your desired prototype to the final product itself, the procedure tests ideas and designs more quickly. Always remember that a faster design and prototype production just only means more time to repeat your prototype and find your target product market fit before your competitors do. This is because the 3D printing process only takes a few hours to complete.
Ease of Access
Given that 3D printing has been around for decades already, the explosion of interests has certainly brought easier to use software and hardware to consumers since more competition has entered the market space. This only means that any individual or business can easily learn and incorporate this technology in a matter of days into their production cycle.
Quality of Prototyping
While traditional manufacturing methods can simply result in poor designs and low-quality prototypes, opting to use this technology definitely gives you a better outcome. Utilizing 3D printing allows the step-by-step assembly of your chosen object, which in turn, guarantees more enhanced designs that result in better quality objects.
Tangible Design and Effective Product Testing
Another advantage of using 3D printing is that it offers individuals and businesses to have their own tangible prototype design and product testing. 3D printing offers the benefit of both seeing a product virtually while comparing it to the actual feel of a prototype. With this technology, it is now possible to experience the touch and actual feel of the product prototype in order for it to be physically tested while finding flaws in the design.
3D Printing is Cost Effective
Labor cost definitely plays a huge role in developing a prototype. For instance, traditional prototyping includes production runs while injection molds are very costly since they require a lot of human labor to finish a prototype. When you choose to use 3D printing, labor cost does not require a big chunk of money since you only need an individual to issue a print command.
What is a Rapid Prototype?
3D prototyping, or most commonly known as rapid prototyping, refers to the process of repeating a design by swiftly manufacturing physical prototypes and making small changes to improve it. This process is then assisted by using any 3D CAD system to be able to have a fast fabrication of a physical part or model of your chosen object.
The 3D printing process includes a myriad of manufacturing technologies. However, other technologies that are using the process include casting, extruding, high-speed machining, and molding. Aside from these, there are other 3D printing process types, which includes the following:
The process wherein a block of material is carved to create the desired shape by using milling, grinding, or turning.
On the other hand, the compressive process is the procedure wherein a semi-solid or liquid material is forced into a desired shape before it being solidified by means of casting, compressive, or molding.
3D Prototype Application
During its advent, 3D prototyping is commonly utilized in building parts and scale models in the automotive industry. However, its reach has been widened to various industries such as the medical and aerospace industry.
These days, the 3D prototype process is usually used by people who are in the designing industry, most especially product designers. This is because this process can greatly help in the design, development, and overall visualization of the manufacturing process before an object is mass-produced.
Aside from this, there are also different types of 3D prototyping, which are as follows:
- Binder Jetting
- Digital Light Processing (DLP)
- Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or Material Jetting
- Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM) or Sheet Lamination
- Selective Laser Melting (SLM) or Powder Bed Fusion
- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
- Stereolithography (SLA) or Vat Photopolymerization
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