Everyone is talking about 3D printing. No surprise, because 3D printing is a fascinating technology. But why? What is a 3D printer good for? And most importantly, why is 3D printing so appealing to personal users? In this article, I would like to answer these questions by top 5 application examples.
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1) Complex Geometries
3D printing has made it possible to create complex objects in a simple way. A lot of structures are impossible to manufacture by standard methods (or only with cost-intensive effort). For example, the inside of a 3D printed object can be designed in the form of a stress-optimized lightweight structure. This saves both weight and costs and thus optimizes the mechanical properties of the object. Even threads, for example, can be implemented in areas, that are hardly accessible using standard tools. And last but not least, the outer shape of the object can be designed almost completely as desired. 3D printing gives designers and engineers maximum freedom for design and optimization aspects when creating components.
2) Produce Individual Parts
Especially for the production of individual parts, 3D printing is the preferred technology. As no molds or tools are needed, an individual part can be created at a low price with each printing job. Whether a spare part that is no longer available is needed or an object with many customisable properties has to be produced, the printer does not mind at all. All it needs is a printing material and the information which movements have to be done.
3) Location-Independent Production
A very fascinating idea is that 3D printers can be used in very isolated areas. In space or in areas that are cut off from any infrastructure, this offers an enormous advantage. The crew of the ISS, for example, put a 3D printer into operation in space several years ago in order to become more independent from spare parts deliveries from planet Earth. And best of all, the printer can easily produce its own spare parts. And that way, a single printer can also be used to reproduce further printers.
Original message by NASA:
4) Rapid and Cost-Effective Prototyping
Prototyping, i.e. the creation of a functional or design model of a future product is another area of application for 3D printing. In the past, tooling molds had to be produced for a prototype. Making such molds takes time and costs a lot of money. Furthermore, there is not much flexibility if changes need to be made to the parts. Using 3D printing technology, a concept for a future product can now be tested much more quickly and cost-effectively. Tools are not necessary any more and even functional parts can be easily verified. A great step forward for tinkerers and inventors. If designed correctly, even some moving parts can be done in one printing job. That means, that the parts do not have to be assembled after production any more.
5) Print a whole lot of Free Objects Yourself - Simply at Home
3D printers are useful "private production facilities". Countless objects can be downloaded from many online content platforms (Thingiverse, MyMiniFactory, YouMagine, GrabCAD, etc.) and simply printed by yourself using your 3D printer. Thanks to the members of the 3D printing community mostly even free of charge (besides filament,...). There are many functional and useful parts. Best of all, it's a lot of fun to watch the printer working.
Author: Johannes | 3DTech
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