Economies of scale are the invisible force that supports the modern industrial economy, and factories and production lines are the characteristics of large-scale production in modern industrial societies. However, such production costs are not low, and companies must employ highly skilled technicians and engineers to accurately translate conceptual designs into actual items, calibrate factory machines, and supervise assembly lines. To recoup the upfront investment in design and production, a business must sell a large number of products to benefit from the initial investment. As a result, mass production sacrifices product diversity.
3D printing is characterized by small batches and customization, which reduces the risk and cost of bringing new products to market. People do not need assembly lines or factories, nor do they need to hire skilled designers and engineers. In his masterpiece The Long Tail, Chris Anderson describes the future of manufacturing as “a distributed system of hyperscale networks of small businesses.” Through specific analysis, we believe that 3d printing technology contains at least the following ten advantages
1. Unlimited design space
Traditional manufacturing techniques and artisans make products in limited shapes, and the ability to make shapes is limited by the tools used. For example, traditional wooden lathes can only make round items, rolling mills can only process parts assembled with milling cutters, and molding machines can only make molded shapes. 3D printers can break through these limitations, open up huge design spaces, and manufacture products that are difficult or even impossible to process with traditional processes.
2. Improve prenatal design
A prototype is the first draft of a product, which helps designers, engineers, and manufacturers go through multiple checks and truly experience the look and feel of the product. Traditional prototypes are made by hand using foam or clay, and conceptual models are quickly created through 3D printing, allowing better communication between designers and customers. In traditional industrial manufacturing, if a design concept is defective after the product is made, the company needs to bear the waste cost of a lot of materials. The use of 3D printing technology to produce conceptual models can quickly adjust the initial design and continue to improve.
In addition to conceptual design, 3D printing is also used to create functional prototypes, because the items made by 3D printing technology have high-temperature resistance, chemical corrosion resistance, and other properties, through various performance tests on the prototype to improve the final product design parameters, greatly shortening the product from design to production time. 3D printing speeds up the design process, continuously improving the safety and rational design of products, ergonomics, marketing, and design, to optimize products before they are fully put into production and create better products.
3. Diversifying production will not increase costs
As far as traditional manufacturing is concerned, the more complex the shape of the object, the higher the manufacturing cost. However, for 3D printers, the cost of making objects with complex shapes does not increase correspondingly. In addition, traditional manufacturing equipment has fewer functions and can produce a limited variety of shapes. A 3D printer can print different shapes, and it can make different-shaped items each time like a craftsman. This printing of manufacturing diversification without increasing costs will fundamentally disrupt traditional pricing models and change the way our entire manufacturing costs are structured.
4, the product does not require assembly
3D printing has the characteristics of one-piece forming, which has a significant help in reducing labor and transportation costs. Traditional mass production is based on industrial chains and assembly lines, in modern factories, machines produce the same parts, which are then assembled by workers. The more components a product has, the longer the supply chain and product line will stretch, and the more time and cost it will take to assemble and ship. The 3D printing integrated forming features, no need to assemble again, thereby shortening the supply chain, and saving on labor and transportation costs.
5, shorten the production period
3D printing Because it can be printed according to people’s needs, this instant production will greatly reduce the inventory of enterprises, so enterprises can start 3D printers according to the needs of users, and create customized products to meet customer needs, so a new business model will become possible. If the items people need can be produced nearby on demand, then this zero-inventory, zero-time delivery production method can also reduce the cost of long-distance transportation.
6. Lower the threshold of manufacturing skills
Traditional manufacturing machines require skilled professionals to make machine adjustments and calibrations, and it often takes several years to train a skilled worker. The operating skills required by 3D printers will be much less than traditional equipment, so the emergence of 3D printing will significantly lower the threshold for production skills. This move away from the original high threshold of unskilled manufacturing will further lead to some new business models, and can provide people with printing services in remote environments or extreme situations.
7, no space, portable manufacturing
3D printers can move freely and create objects larger than themselves. For example, injection molding machines can only make items much smaller than themselves, while some 3D printers can make items much larger than themselves. In addition, civilian consumer 3D printing equipment can also move freely, due to its high portability, there are several home or desktop 3D printers, that rely on the 3D printer requiring a smaller physical space for this advantage.
8. Save materials
Traditional metal processing has a very surprising amount of waste, and some fine production can even cause 90% of the waste of raw materials. The amount of waste of 3D printers will be significantly reduced, and with the advancement of printing materials, 3D printing “net forming” manufacturing will become a more environmentally friendly processing method.
9, an unlimited combination of materials
Traditional manufacturing machines make it difficult to integrate a variety of raw materials in the cutting or mold-forming process, and 3D printing raw materials can be arbitrarily combined to create the performance structure that people want. For example, nylon-glass fiber or nylon-carbon fiber composite materials can improve the mechanical properties of nylon, adding 50% titanium metal to the nickel alloy powder can significantly improve the performance, and now there are researchers in the development of carbon nanotubes, graphene, and other new composite materials.
10. Exact physical copy
Traditional tape can only be passed through the physical physical to ensure that the information is not lost. With the advent of digital music files, the information is removed from the carrier and can be copied indefinitely without compromising audio quality. 3D printing technology is also expected to extend digital precision into the physical world across the entire manufacturing sector. Together, 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies will increase the resolution of morphological transformations between the physical and digital worlds, narrowing the distance between the physical world and the digital century.
Some of these advantages have already been proven, and some may become reality in the next two or three decades. 3D printing will break through the familiar and time-honored traditional manufacturing technology bottleneck again and again, bring forth the new, and provide a broader stage for human manufacturing innovation in the future; After seeing these advantages of 3d printing technology, it is not more confident as a practitioner!