Pre – Reading
What can these printers print?
What are the benefits to such products?
Why is it better than products that are manufactured today?
3D Printing : The Future of Manufacturing
Imagine a world where you can make anything you want, just by pressing “print”. The 3D printer is becoming more and more a tool of the present and promised a fascinating future. 3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital model. This printer turns digital 3D models into a physical objects by building them up in layers.
This remarkable machine can already create a wide variety of objects, including car parts, accessories, camera lenses, and even musical instruments. 3D printing technology will completely change our lives,” says computer scientist and futurologist Mark Lowden from Hartford, Connecticut. “In the future, people will be using the 3D printer to make or replace almost any object in the household,” he says. Lowden also expects shopping to become a totally different experience. “Clothing and shoe stores will become a thing of the past. With 3D printing, people will be able to make their own clothes and shoes, with minimum effort and maximum success.”
One of the most important applications of 3D printing is in the medical industry. The breakthroughs in this area are rapid and impressive. In addition to being able to produce custom-made hearing aids and dental devices, this new technology enables specialists to treat a number of challenging medical conditions. People with serious physical problems, such as missing limbs, have received printed arms, hands, fingers, as well as legs and toes. “The next step is creating entire organs,” says Dr. Smithson from the Samuel David Medical Center in Houston, Texas. “There is a great shortage of organ donors in the USA. So the faster we can develop this technology, the more lives we can save.”
There are many more benefits to 3D printing in other industries. Using 3D printing lessens the time, cost, and waste it takes to produce a product. While conventional manufacturing starts with extra materials and then getting rid of what’s not needed to form the product’s shape, 3D printing uses a different method. 3D printing manufactures products by adding only the materials that are needed. Strati, the world’s first 3D-printed electric car, was constructed in 44 hours by Local Motors. The frame of the car was printed one piece of carbon fibre and the whole vehicle was only composed of a total of 40 parts. There are less components that could go wrong, so this also means that are more durable and can last longer. Local Motors were trying to revolutionise how cars were made, in order to bring costs of manufacturing down, lower vehicle weight and speed up product delivery.
In the overall process of making a final product, it’s also less expensive and time consuming to make demos or test designs and prototypes of a complete product or any of its components. The complete product can be created without needing an assembly line, heavy machines, or extra resources. Start to finish, the process of making a product from a 3D printer takes less time and energy than a normal manufacturing process because less people, demos, materials, and effort are needed.
If consumers wish to 3D print from home, all they need would be a 3D CAD file and a server. They can download the file for the product they wish to create, or a part they need to replace, and print it at home right away. This would prevent consumers from having to wait for their package to be delivered, or have to rush out and buy a new product when something breaks. Moreover, it would save consumers money both on shipping and on the cost of the product itself and everything that goes into it including, materials and demos. 3D printers allow the customer to customize their product and create exactly what they’re looking for. They can spend less time looking for the perfect product and just create it themselves at home.
Lastly, one of the greatest positives of 3D printing is that it would help keep waste down whether a product is printed at home or in a manufacturing company. Extra plastic materials, cardboard, paper instructions, and boxes are no longer needed. It will take time to save our environment from all the waste and pollution, but reducing the carbon footprint from 3D printing is a start.
Introduction: how products are printed this way, how this is beginning to replace traditional manufacturing.
Industrial Production Benefits: cost reduction, time, waste, better quality- one piece less components.
Consumer Benefits: lower costs, availability, custom made, no need to wait for shipping.
Benefits of uses for the medical field: replace missing limbs, custom-made hearing aids, solve the problem of shortage of donors.
Post Reading Question:
Can you think of a downside or limitation to 3D printing?