The cautionary point of view: 3D printing not yet ready to disrupt plastic injection molding

3D printing needs to mature before it is considered an alternative to injection molding for large-volume production jobs

Product developers and engineers who design and manufacture plastic parts now have a powerful new weapon in their arsenal: 3D printing. This disruptive technology has great promise for rapid prototyping and low-volume manufacturing, but is it ready to replace high-volume plastic injection molding using dedicated metal tools and dies?

The short answer: 3D printing is better used as a complement to plastic injection molding rather than as competition, though that may change. Here’s where we currently stand and what the future may hold.

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OEMs identify 3D Printing as key technology

Hailey Lynne McKeefryFrom auto makers to industrial companies, manufacturers are looking at how additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, can streamline its processes, decrease costs, and more.

“As industrial 3D printers go from stand-alone systems, used mostly for prototyping, tooling and single part production to becoming the core systems within integrated digital mass production lines, a number of opportunities are expected to emerge in the transformation of the factory of tomorrow,” said market research firm SmartTech said.

The market is growing substantially. In fact, Research and Markets forecasts that the global market for 3D printing metals, a key ability for manufactures, will reach a value of $12 billion by the year 2028.

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Fast Radius takes significant step towards high volume 3D printing manufacturing as Launch Partner for Carbon’s revolutionary SpeedCell™

Fast Radius is fast transforming the use of 3D printing in manufacturing by offering the technology at the end of UPS’s runway, allowing for higher volume production and fast distribution across the USA, and soon SE Asia.  With this announcement, its capability is explanded, and the model will be interesting to other logistics companies.

Fast Radius, a leading global on demand manufacturing and supply chain solutions provider, announced today that Carbon, Inc. has selected Fast Radius as one of its first launch partners to implement Carbon’s revolutionary new SpeedCell, a system of securely connected products designed to upend traditional methods of manufacturing. This new technology will be initially deployed by Fast Radius in its manufacturing facility which is located on UPS’s Supply Chain Solutions campus in Louisville KY.

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