At first, 3D printing technology, also known as additive manufacturing, looked to be a cool new toy for avid design engineers. Now, it looks as if 3D printing will revolutionize industry as companies expand their use of 3D printing beyond prototyping to the production floor.
How does 3D printing work?
According to Andrew Walker of the Independent, 3D printing “...is like baking a loaf of sliced bread backwards.” Instead of slicing a loaf of bread, 3D printing glues the individual slices back together. A 3D printer works by first creating a model of the desired item on the computer. After it has uploaded, the printer dispenses material, layer by layer, on the shelf until the entire solid item is created.
How is 3D printing revolutionizing industry?
A survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) of 100 top manufacturers revealed that two-thirds are using 3D printing, some for rapid prototyping and others for production or custom parts.
- In aerospace and defense, 3D printing is used to develop functional, end-of-use aerospace and defense parts.
- Architects use 3D printing to translate blueprints into scaled models.
- In the health care industry, 3D printing is used to train doctors to master critical surgical skills.
- 3D printing helps medical device companies go from prototype to trial.
- The automotive industry uses 3D printing to accelerate vehicle design and to produce functional and durable automotive parts.
- Pharmaceutical companies plan to print live tissues for testing during drug development.
Watch the video below to learn how GE used additive manufacturing to build a jet engine.
How do you think 3D printing will revolutionize industry? Add your comment below.