3D Printing: Prototyping at it's best.

When it comes to manufacturing any product, the basic necessity to put said product into production is designing and prototyping. When a product has to be developed and produced on large scale, the engineers and designers must work in unison to create a design that is practically feasible and then a prototype based on the design. The prototype is basically a scaled down version of the actual product that is supposed to be produced on a large scale. A prototype helps the engineers to analyze certain parameters regarding the material used and also to check if the design is practical and feasible in the real world.

In today's world, the most efficient and reliable method to create a prototype is by the method of 3D printing and this reduces a lot of hardships faced by manufacturers as it is simple, quick and gives a good finish.

What is 3D printing?

3D printing is basically an additive manufacturing method wherein three dimensional objects can be printed from a digital file.

3D printing is an additive process as it involves addition of material layer by layer to create the final object in which each thin layer of material is a cross section of the object. This process is efficient is it ensures reduction in material usage and also a reduction in wastage of material unlike subtractive manufacturing.

3D printing is better than traditional manufacturing methods as it can produce complex shapes without difficulty and with lesser amount of material.

3D printing starts with making a 3D model that you can either create or download. A 3D model can be created using a plethora of software available as of today. These softwares let you design a 3D model layer by layer as blueprint which can then be fed to a 3D printer.

Once you are ready with the 3D model, you have to prepare it to be printed, this is called slicing. Slicing software break down of model into individual layers and finally prepares it to be printed layer by layer.

Applications of 3D printing.

  • Consumer products like eyewear, footwear etc.

  • Industrial products such as tools, prototypes etc.

  • Dental products.

  • Prosthetics.

  • Architectural models.

  • Reconstruction of fossils and artefacts.

  • Reconstruction of evidence in investigations.

  • Movie props.

Types of 3D printing.

  • Binder jetting - Process of depositing a thin layer of powdered material onto the build platform, after which drops of adhesive are deposited by print head to bind particles.

  • Direct energy deposition - Process of using focused thermal energy such as an electric arc, laser or electron beam to fuse wire or powder feedstock as it is deposited.

  • Material extrusion - Makes use of a spool of filament which is fed to an extrusion head with a heated nozzle.

  • Material jetting - Similar to inkjet printing but this process involves deposition of liquid material from one or more print heads.

  • Powder bed fusion - Process in which thermal energy selectively fuses areas of a powder bed to form layers which are then built upon each other to create a part.

  • Sheet lamination - Makes use of ultrasonic welding to join two sheets together.

The table above gives the complete details for each type of 3D printer.

Advantages of 3D printing.

  • Bespoke and cost effective method to create complex structures.

  • No moulds required.

  • Customizable.

  • Best option for rapid prototyping.

  • allows for part creation with specific properties.

Disadvantages of 3D printing.

  • Lower strength than traditionally manufactured products.

  • Not cost effective at a large scale.

  • Post processing requirements.

  • Limitations in accuracy.

How is 3D printing used in different industries?

  • Aerospace - 3D printing is used in aerospace to produce light components such as the rudders and wing equipment.

  • Automobile - 3D printing is used in automobile industry to make cost effective prototypes and also to produce bespoke parts.

  • Medical - 3D printing is used in the medical industry to make made to measure implants and also to make prosthetic limbs and joints.

  • Railways - 3D printing is used to repair the worn rails and sometimes even to replace the girders.

  • Robotics - Most suitable for this field as it gives complete freedom to design the required structure.

The field of 3D printing is relatively new but it's a huge step forward when it comes to technology and it is sure to be boom in every industry with a lot of job opportunities to come.

3D printing is sure to expand worldwide through every industry and is sure to be the future of manufacturing and rapid prototyping.

This clears it up and it is definitely a way to revolutionize manufacturing.

That's all folks!!


10 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All