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This production process extend to a spacious horizon of advantages contrast to conservative or traditional fabricate medium. These advantages include those corresponding to design, time and cost, amid supplemental.
1. Flexible Design
3D printing empower for the design and print of more composite designs than traditional manufacturing processes. More traditional processes have design limitations which no longer apply with the use of 3D printing.
2. Rapid Prototyping
One of the biggest concerns for a designer is how to manufacture a part as efficiently as possible. Most parts require a large number of manufacturing steps to be produce by traditional technologies. The order of these steps arise affects the quality and manufacturability of the design.
3D printing can manufacture parts within hours, which accelerates the prototyping process. This allows for each stage to accomplished rapidly. When compared to machining prototypes, 3D printing is economical and expeditious at creating parts, as the part can be finished in hours, allowing for each design modification to be completed at a much more efficient rate.
3. Print on Demand
Print on demand is another advantage as it doesn’t need a lot of space to stock inventory, unlike traditional manufacturing processes. This bring off space and costs as there is no need to print in bulk unless requisite.
The 3D design files are all stored in a virtual library as they are printed using a 3D model as either a CAD or STL file, this means they can be located and printed when needed. Edits to designs can be made at very economical costs by editing individual files without wastage of out of date inventory and investing in tools.
4. Strong and Lightweight Parts
The main 3D printing material used is plastic, although some metals can also be used for 3D printing. However, plastics offer advantages as they are lighter than their metal equivalents. This is particularly important in industries such as automotive and aerospace where light-weighting is an issue and can deliver greater fuel efficiency.
Also, parts can be created from tailored materials to provide specific properties such as heat resistance, higher strength or water repellency.
5. Fast Design and Production
One of the main advantages of additive manufacture is the speed at which parts can be produced compared to traditional manufacturing methods. Complex designs can be uploaded from a CAD model and printed in a few hours. The advantage of this is the rapid verification and development of design ideas.
Where in the past it may have taken days or even weeks to receive a prototype, additive manufacturing places a model in the hands of the designer within a few hours. While the more industrial additive manufacturing machines take longer to print and post-process a part, the ability to produce functional end parts at low to mid volumes offers a huge time-saving advantage when compared to traditional manufacturing techniques.
6. Minimising Waste
The production of parts only requires the materials needed for the part itself, with little or no wastage as compared to alternative methods which are cut from large chunks of non-recyclable materials. Not only does the process save on resources but it also reduces the cost of the materials being cast-off.
7. Cost Effective
As a single step manufacturing process, 3D printing saves time and therefore costs associated with using different machines for manufacture. 3D printers can also be set up and left to get on with the job, meaning that there is no need for operators to be present the entire time. As mentioned above, this manufacturing process can also reduce costs on materials as it only uses the amount of material required for the part itself, with little or no wastage. While 3D printing equipment can be expensive to buy, you can even avoid this cost by outsourcing your project to a 3D printing service company.
The cost of manufacture could be broken down into 3 categories; machine operation costs, material cost and labor costs.
Machine operation costs:
Most desktop 3D printers use the same amount of power as a laptop computer. Industrial additive manufacturing technologies consume a high amount of energy to produce a single part. However, the ability to produce complex geometries in a single step results in higher efficiency and turnaround. Machine operation costs are typically the lowest contributor to the overall cost of manufacture.
The material cost for additive manufacturing varies significantly by technology. Desktop The range of materials available for additive manufacturing makes quantifying a comparison with traditional manufacturing difficult.Material costs are the biggest contributor to the cost of a part made via additive manufacturing.
One of the main advantages of 3D printing is the the low cost of labor. Post-processing aside, the majority of 3D printers only require an operator to press a button. The machine then follows a completely automated process to produce the part. Compared to traditional manufacturing, where highly skilled machinists and operators are typically required, the labor costs for a 3D printer are almost zero.
Additive manufacturing at low volumes is very competitively costed compared to traditional manufacturing. For the production of prototypes that verify form and fit, it is significantly economical than other alternative manufacturing methods (e.g. injection molding) and is often competitive for manufacturing one-off functional parts. Traditional manufacturing techniques become more cost-effective as volume increases and the high setup costs are justified by the large volumes of production.
Not only does 3D printing allow more design freedom, it also allows complete customization of designs. Since current additive manufacturing technologies excel in building single parts one at a time, they are perfectly suited for one-off production.
This concept has been embraced by the medical and dental industry for the manufacture of custom prosthetics, implants, and dental aids. From high-level sporting gear that is tailored to fit an athlete perfectly to custom sunglasses and fashion accessories, additive manufacturing allows cost-effective single run production of custom parts.
9. Ease of Access
3D printers are becoming more and more accessible with more local service providers offering outsourcing services for manufacturing work. This saves time and doesn’t require expensive transport costs compared to more traditional manufacturing processes produced abroad in countries such as China.
10. Environmentally Friendly
As this technology reduces the amount of material wastage used this process is inherently environmentally friendly. However, the environmental benefits are extended when you consider factors such as improved fuel efficiency from using lightweight 3D printed parts.
Subtractive manufacturing methods, such as CNC milling or turning, remove a significant amount of material from an initial block, resulting in high volumes of waste material.
Additive manufacturing methods generally only use the material needed to build a part. Most processes use raw materials that can be recycled and re-used in more than one builds. As a result, additive manufacturing process produces very little waste.
Fairphone 3D printed accessories that are made on demand from recycled wood fiber material
The increase in the number of additive manufacturing machines in the world has also impacted the distance prototypes are shipped:
Because tabletop 3D printers have a relatively small learning curve to operate successfully, designs do not need to be sent away to an expert to be manufactured. Moreover, the footprint of an industrial additive manufacturing system is much smaller than the footprint of a traditional manufacturing site.
For this reason, professional 3D printing services are created around the world, even in locations where the cost of land is high. The reduction in shipping requirements has a positive environmental impact. This, coupled with the ability to print and produce spare parts on site, results in a much smaller carbon footprint for most parts produced via additive manufacturing.