For a period of time after the invention of 3D printing in the 1980s, little was known outside of engineering and manufacturing circles. Can't say that anymore.
Whether 3D printers were used to produce PPE during the Covid-19 pandemic or to transform turbomachinery, they all occupy a place at the core of the entire product design and manufacturing process.
This week, industry leaders Stratasys, Laser Lines, 3D Systems, and Boston Micro Fabrication teamed up with Professional Engineering to create the definitive guide to 3D printing. Here are the four main trends highlighted this week.
Claire Barker, general manager of Stratasys Northern Europe and Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East, said that outsourcing, staffing issues and the Covid-19 pandemic have severely disrupted the global supply chain. Fortunately, 3D printing can help.
"Companies are increasingly moving production overseas to ensure the safety of their supply chains and use AM machines to fill inventory gaps," Buck said. "3D printers are a flexible, reliable and on-demand production method that can produce some of the key components that are essential to them."
3D Systems emphasized that for more than 30 years, additive manufacturing has helped improve the capabilities, reliability and efficiency of turbomachinery components. Printing features such as conformal cooling channels allow manufacturers to optimize functionality.
It also helps them adapt to lean manufacturing. 3D Systems stated that smooth workflows, higher quality, limited waste and on-demand manufacturing are just some of the benefits.
For traditional parts and components, 3D printing generally becomes less economical than injection molding as the output increases. However, according to BMF, these standard rules do not really apply to micro 3D printing. This is because molds for very small parts are more expensive, but the parts require less material.
BMF stated that the advantages provided by micro 3D printing include flexibility, lower material and chemical requirements, and the elimination of mold and tool costs.
Laser Lines, the UK's leading end-to-end 3D printing partner, emphasized new capabilities in the field of manufacturing. Selective Absorption Fusion™ (SAF), Stereolithography (SLA) and P3 aggregation in Stratasys printers all provide customers with more options.
"We now see engineering and product design driving innovation every day," Laser Lines said.
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The content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.
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