It goes without saying that 3D printing is reshaping industries after industries. A decade back, it was more than impossible for us to imagine a jet engine being printed using a 3D scanner. But now it’s a reality.
Industry observers are of the opinion that 3D will penetrate more into the conventional brick-and-mortar industries and bring drastic changes into them. To what extent are they believable? What radical changes, led by 3D printing are taking place around us? I’ll search for those answers in this article.
Sector-wise contribution of 3D
A distinctive aspect of 3D is it’s coming of age, as it still has a lot to grow. At this moment, 3D is leveraging the following industries:
lManufacturing: A reduced product life-cycle implies the operational cost being under the margin. Thanks to 3D printing, the process of tinkering with prototypes has become relatively easy and less time consuming for the multinational industrial firms.
lReal estate: The real estate industry has become increasingly reliant on 3D printing. There are state-of-the-art 3D scanners that can design the structure of a building in less time, and the design will be technically perfect.
lEntertainment: Advanced technologies such as motion capturing and rotoscoping have close resemblance with 3D. They are actually the variations of 3D. Such technologies are high in demand in the film industry.
lToymaking: Apprehending the advantages of 3D printing, many toymakers have embraced it. The 3D printed toys are not like regular, handmade toys. Their manufacturers use sophisticated hardware equipment to build them while 3D printing suffices their design.
The production process becomes highly cost-efficient as 3D enters. Pundits have shared their observations on how 3D can lower the operating cost for a business. Other than enabling businesses to quickly try their hands with prototypes, 3D printing also affords manufacturing runs during the product development phases.
But the biggest benefit of 3D printing is the freedom to redesign while the production process continues. It saves bundles of money. The planning and design of a product are more crucial than manufacturing it. An unnoticed mistake during the planning phase can cost a company an arm and a leg. As 3D printing eliminates such bottlenecks, it cuts down on the operating expenses and leverages businesses.
For home use?
Problem is, 3D scanners have little value when it comes to home use. That’s not because an end-user can’t get his hands on a 3D scanner, but because there’s hardly any purpose for him to use it Large scale industries put 3D printers to use because the machines eliminate bottlenecks.
But the scanners are not equipped to the extent that they can pose a challenge to the Replicator from the Star Trek series. A home user can’t expect a pizza popping out from a 3D printer. That’s possible only in the fairyland, not in the real world. At least not in the present time.
Some realistic usage of the 3D scanners in a home environment are printing small objects, made of plastic. But for a home users, it's better to buy them as 3D scanners are quite expensive and he needs plastic filaments separately, which will cost him extra.
The developments around us
As we need facts to help us pushing our anticipation, we can look around us and acknowledge the changes that 3D printing is bringing around.
PLA, nylon, PEEK, polycarbonate, ABS, etc are the materials, used by 3D printing machines. But the Breakthrough Glass 3D technique by Micron3DP presents a new material to 3D print objects; glass. Extrusion based 3D machines that require a temperature between 180°C and 325°C as the melting point, are unable to operate on glass. The technology by Micron3DP are far more advanced than run-of-the-mill machines as it melts soft glasses at a temperature of 850°C.
A very recent development is credited to a US based company called Organovo. The company has designed 3D printed liver tissues, which pharmaceutical companies can use to test the effects of certain drugs.
The toy manufacturing industry is not too far behind. A 3D printed replica of the Arkham Knight’s suit including the helmet, the armor and the guns, made of various families of rubbers and resins has arrived in the market.
On the horizon
The 3D printing industry will continue to develop, up until the day when the boundary line between fact and fiction will become a blur. As for the not-so-distant