The concept of 3D printing has been touched on as early as the mid-1980s; however, only in recent years has it increased in demand as the machines and materials finally bridged its affordability gap. With the opportunity to create three-dimensional printing at a reasonable price, 3D printing is now booming as it opens up opportunities in the business landscape and beyond.
By 2021, it is predicted that 40% of manufacturing enterprises will establish 3D printing centres due to the cost-efficient, practical, and effective solution it offers in developing products. On that note, it completely transforms organisations working with plastics, ceramics, glass, composites, hybrids, biomaterials, and even metals. With its endless applications – from budget-friendly prototyping to manufacturing – 3D printing can change everything in the entire production process itself.
How Does a 3D Printer Work?
A typical 3D printer works similarly to an inkjet printer operated from a computer. It constructs a model by building it layer by layer using fused deposition modelling (FDM). This converts the digital blueprint into two-dimensional, cross-sectional layers made up of molten plastic called filaments.
This material typically comes in strands with measurements ranging between 1.75 or 2.85 millimetres. During the process, the printer heats up the filament and squeezes it out onto a flat surface, while the layers are glued together using ultraviolet light.
In many ways, it is an industrial revolution as 3D printing allows multiple organisations to produce extremely detailed and intricate designs which are otherwise impractical or high-priced with other methods.
What are the Applications of 3D Printing in the World of Business?
3D printing has enabled multiple industries – from medicine to automotive – produce things in a way that is significantly cost-friendly and time-saving. For instance, 3D printed models are used in healthcare to create custom-built prostheses in labs. On another note, 3D printing is highly beneficial to businesses that manufacture small batches of goods. In the field of aerospace, 3D printed parts can be easily assembled in one go, reducing the time and costs it takes to complete the complex product. Not to mention, it is also widely used by designers who make prototypes.
How Does 3D Printing Affect the Supply Chain?
In terms of the impact of 3D printing on inventory and logistics, its ability to print-on-demand eliminates the need for stacking finished products on warehouses. The supply chain collapses as 3D printing abolishes the need for high-volume production and the hiring of low-level assembly workers. This reduces the cost of distribution as well as maximises a material’s customisation. With the modernised system, the modernised system of manufacturing can move beyond the constraints of a traditional supply chain.
3D Printing Allows Businesses to Manufacture Products without the Cost of Mass Production
A product can only be successful if the company is selling thousands of given products. However, small enterprises may not have the same level of demand to justify the time, resources, and expenses spent on its mass production. On that note, 3D printing offers a favourable alternative wherein items can be produced in low-volumes without breaking the bank all while meeting the precise demands of the market.