Reviewed by Jan 29, 2021| Updated on
3D printing is carried out to create a physical object from a digital design. Also known as additive manufacturing, it fuses thin layers of material in the form of liquid or powdered plastics, metal, or cement to create solid objects.
Nowadays, 3D printing technology has considerably increased manufacturing productivity. It is capable of significantly interrupting the manufacturing logistics and inventory management industries if it can be used successfully in mass manufacturing and if manufacturing becomes more local.
In reality, 3D printing speeds are still too sluggish for mass manufacturing. For now, the technology mostly decreases the lead time in the production of parts, equipment prototypes, and the machinery required to make them. This is a massive advantage for smaller-scale producers as it reduces costs and selling time.
3D printing is used in hydroforming, stamping, injection moulding, and other processes. This is because 3D printing can develop complex and intricate shapes with less material as compared to subtractive manufacturing processes, such as milling.
Manufacturers of cars and aircraft have taken the lead in 3D manufacturing to transform the design and production of unibody and fuselage, and design and production of power trains.
Boeing is using 3D-printed titanium parts to create the Dreamliner 787 aircraft range. Air forces of the U.S. and Israel are already manufacturing spare parts using 3D printers.
In 2017, GE, which sees itself at the forefront of the industrial internet, created a helicopter engine with 16 parts instead of 900—a sign of how great an impact 3D printing could have on supply chains.
In fashion, 3D printing is used by Nike, Adidas, and New Balance to create prototypes quicker than ever, and customize shoes. Nike revealed in 2018 that it had made the first 3D-printed textile upper in performance footwear, called Flyprint. This model, specifically, engineers the textile by unwinding a coil of thermoplastic filament that is set in melted layers.
Companies around the world are making new advances in 3D-home printing within the construction industry. Homes can be constructed in 48 hours using layers of concrete, which are more robust than standard cinder blocks and only at a fraction of the price.