3D Printing: What is it good for?

Will 3D printing encourage companies to move to decentralized manufacturing or stick with centralized manufacturing?

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), could be a game-changer for manufacturing, enabling significant savings of cost, time, and materials. In traditional manufacturing, parts are made in large quantities at centralized factories, then shipped to consumers. But with the growth of 3D printing, many wonder if technology will cause a shift from this centralized model to a more distributed model, in which facilities in different locations coordinate to fill manufacturing needs.

3D printer and question marks

A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s Engineering and Public Policy Dept. (EPP) and the University of Lisbon investigated how 3D printing could contribute to distributed manufacturing. They examined whether 3D printing will disrupt this central model, specifically in the context of spare parts for the aerospace industry, where being able to quickly print parts instead of stockpiling them would be attractive.

“Our results suggest that 3D printing may not be as conducive to distributed manufacturing as some might hope,” says Parth Vaishnav, a research professor in EPP. He and his team believe 3D printing is more suitable for non-critical parts that do not need to be expensively processed after emerging from the printers.

Read more

What are the benefits of 3D printing technology?

Professionals are most commonly using 3D printing technology for prototyping prospective products/parts/components

One of the fastest-growing developments in the world of technology has been that of 3D printing. It is the process of depositing successive layers of material (e.g. plastic, metal, wax etc.) in a 3D printer, to create a physical object envisioned from a digital model.

3D printing technology has already been heavily adopted in industries like aerospace, automotive and industrial goods. With organizations in these respective industries utilizing 3D printing for aspects such as making those parts/components that cannot be manufactured through conventional machining or laser processing techniques. 

Read more

3D Printing – Evolution rather than Revolution – Part 2

In the first part of this blog series, three theses were introduced showing what 3D printing can and cannot offer. Ultimately, this also dictates in which industries and scenarios revolutions take place and where 3D printing and rapid prototyping are used in a complementary role. To distinguish between realistic and “hyped” applications, we want to investigate and evaluate the potential of currently implemented 3D printing scenarios. Here are four scenarios exemplifying where 3D printing changes the world and where it does not:

Application #1: 3D printing is expensive but brings great advantages

40,000 injectors for jet engines, which GE Aviation is planning to print annually starting in 2018, are a good example. The inner form of these engines makes them fairly difficult to produce with conventional methods: up until now, they had to be assembled using over 20 parts. 3D-printed jet engines save 19 percent kerosene and are 25 percent lighter. These two benefits far outweigh the high manufacturing costs. This is why mass manufacturing is worthwhile in this case.

Conclusion: the design freedom offered by 3D printing can outweigh the high costs when the advantages are significant enough. This new technique helped to overcome existing manufacturing limitations, which enables the application of more advanced improvements in technologies in the future.

Read more

The benefits of 3D printing within contract electronics manufacturing

Always good to have a reminder of the basics of 3D printing and its benefits.  This one is from JJS Manufacturing looking specifically at contract electronics manufacture.

contract_electronics_manufacturingThe buzz around 3D printing, or additive manufacturing as it also known, continues to grow day-by-day and it is regularly hailed as a revolutionary “new” process. But did you know 3D printing has actually been around for over thirty years?

That’s right, back in 1984, a patent was filed by three French inventors for the stereolithography process and then in the late 80s, Charles W Hull founded his company 3D Systems in California – and Scott Crump at Stratasys, another of today’s leaders in the field, launched his first 3D printer.

Fast forward to 2016, and the market has grown exponentially with 3D Systems now employing over two thousand people with revenues in excess of $660m. And according to McKinsey Global Institute research, the economic implications of 3D printing could be up to $550 billion a year by 2025. So it’s fair to say we should probably believe some of the hype.

In this blog post, we will discuss the basics of 3D printing and the different types of printing processes that exist, along with the benefits these bring to contract electronics manufacturers (CEMs) and the customers they serve.

Read more