Let’s talk about something new to the consumer world this week – 3D printing. This technology has been around for some time, and is used, primarily in the engineering, research, government defense, and the industrial manufacturing industry. It is similar to injection molding used to create prototypes on new products but on a larger scale. The technology is starting to evolve in other areas like medical, automotive, food, and even the toy industry.
How does 3D printing work? 3D printers deposit material layer by layer to create a solid object. Objects are constructed with a CAD-like software, then sliced into thin layers (like slicing a loaf of bread). The machine then sprays, squeezes, or dribbles the material onto a base, one layer at a time, fusing them together with heat until the object is formed. This process is also known as additive manufacturing.
Plastic is the most common “ink”, but others include ceramics, metal, sand, sugar and chocolate.
Let’s look at advantages and disadvantages of 3D printing.
- Manufacture custom products – With 3D printing, you can create any product using nothing but a 3D printer. This has paved the way for customized products as it allows you to create your own designs.
- Rapid Prototyping – Cost of prototyping a product decrease allowing designs to be converted into respective prototypes.
- Employment Opportunities – 3D printing will potentially create job opportunities for highly skilled designers and technicians.
- Low Production Costs – The initial costs are high but justified when compared to labor costs and other costs involved in manufacturing the product the conventional way.
- Counterfeiting – This is a major problem with 3D printing. This technology creates concerns for counterfeiting products and copyright infringement laws. Also, it would be very difficult to trace the source of these items. Copyright holders will have a hard time protecting their rights.
- Creating Dangerous Items – There are always a few people who would use the technology for the wrong reasons.
- Create Items that are Harmful to the Environment – One of the dangers of using 3D printing is that some people will create more unnecessary items that are bad for the environment. Fortunately, there are new methods of recycling waste made by these printers.
- Raw Material Limitations – Currently, 3D printing is viable for items made from a single raw material only. However, the ability to use more than one material is being developed.
Please feel free to forward this information to others. If you would like to learn more on this topic or would like to request an area of technology you are interested in, please contact me.
I have worked is various positions as a system administrator, support technician, as a help desk support, and as an IT consultant in a corporate environment. I currently run a small business where I provide computer services such as hardware configuration, installation, for residential and for medium and small businesses. You can contact me by email or visit my website at https://www.mdsystemsolutions.com.