What is 3D Printing- An Explanation

In a layman’s language 3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process that represents three-dimensional printing OR it is a process that creates solid models from the digital designs. This process can be used for creating three-dimensional solid or physical objects. The process is carried out with the help of a digital design and 3D printing software.

Here, you need to lay down thin layers of material and combine them to form an object. The materials used can be either in powdered or liquid form and may be metal, plastic, or cement.

The speed of 3D printing is too slow to be used for mass production. However, it is very powerful when it comes to developing prototypes of devices and parts. It can effectively reduce the lead time of production and is very beneficial for small-scale manufacturers.

Types of 3D Printing

When you know the process of 3D printing, now it is important to understand what types of 3D Printing are there that are helping various industry verticals in the modern scenario.

  • SLA 3D Printing

    Stereolithography, most commonly known by the name SLA 3D Printing, is one of the most profitable techniques when it comes to the additive manufacturing process. It works on a liquid resin layer by layer using a high-powered laser to harden the same. This is done to create the desired 3D shape.

    If explained in layman’s language, this process is used to simply convert the photosensitive liquid to 3D solid plastic in the form of layers to get the desired 3D design.

  • SLS 3D Printing

    Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is an other additive manufacturing technique that is used to collect and combine small particles of a polymer or polymer powder to create one solid structure to create a 3D model out of it.

    For more than a decade now this technology is the top most choice to create 3D designs by engineers, architects, and even manufacturers. There are three major reasons why it is so popular among these industry verticals is because these are of low cost that too according to the per part basis, high in productivity and of established material which makes it an ideal for various applications including small-batch, custom manufacturing, rapid prototyping and more.

Benefits of 3D Printing

Now that we have a complete idea of what 3D printing actually means, it is time to know the benefits of this technique and how it is being advantageous for various industry verticals.

  • Reduced Machine Costs

    3D printing technology helps to bring down the overall product manufacturing cost. Especially when it comes to labor, machines, transit, or materials.

    With its help, you can develop complex parts or components in only one step by deploying fewer machines. Even the 3D printers use less energy as compared to large molding machines.

  • Controlling Labor Charges

    Hiring more people is not required in additive manufacturing that indeed helps in curbing those extra labor charges. Only a single operator can run the fully automated 3D printer and ultimately saves labor cost.

    Apart from this, there is no need to ship products from one country to another or a far-off destination. Instead, you can email the 3d print-ready designs to the desired location.

  • Accelerating the Design Process

    It is well-known for its rapid prototyping feature. It means you don’t have to spend weeks creating the prototype. Also, you need not have to go through multiple revisions before finalizing the design.

    However, if the situation arises, then you can make the required modifications easily. For this, you do not have to delay the manufacturing process.

  • Less Wastage

    Additive manufacturing technology results in producing very little waste as compared to the traditional methods. It is due to the 3D printers, which only use the required amount of material for giving physical shape to the printed model.

    Even if waste is generated, the same can be melted and cooled down for reuse.

  • Reduces Storage Space

    In traditional manufacturing, it was essential to create parts in bulk to store them for later use. However, in the case of 3D printing, it is not needed.

    Three-dimensional printing eliminates the tension of overproduction or extending storage space. It is because the products take less time for creation. So, you can develop them only at the time of requirement.

  • Design Flexibility

    Another advantage of 3D printing is that you can use it to create any shape or design. This can be done with the help of minimal software and tools. Also, it may or may not require any modifications in the physical equipment.

    On the other hand, the traditional methods need more tools, jig, mold, die, etc. while creating the machine parts.

  • Product Longevity & Sustainability

    We have already discussed how 3D printing consumes less energy and produces less waste. It is one of the reasons why it lasts longer and is highly sustainable.

    Apart from this, the materials used here are recyclable, hence environment-friendly. Also, the products developed are lightweight and can be customized with the highest precision.

  • Diversified Use of Raw Materials

    Combining diversified raw materials is another part of manufacturing. It involves huge expenses and can be a little difficult to achieve traditionally.

    However, 3D printing overcomes those limitations. It allows access to mix various materials, which can be used by different industries to serve multiple purposes.

  • Time Optimization

    With 3D printing, you can manufacture products significantly quicker than the traditional methods. This can save a lot of time. You only have to develop the CAD models, after which any complex shape can be printed quickly.

    In this method, there is no need for lengthy prototyping. Here, designs can be tested and verified within a short span.

  • Gaining A Competitive Edge

    Using this technology, you can accurately demonstrate the product models to the clients without the fear of miscommunication. It also enables you to carry out cost-effective testing of the products. It will help them to get acceptance in the market.

    Furthermore, you can customize it to enhance its uniqueness and give it a competitive edge.

  • Eliminating Errors

    Having more steps is very common in conventional methods. It can add the risk of getting errors. It is because there might be a possibility to miss out on a step in between. But, in 3D printing, products can be manufactured in a single step along with quick verification of designs. It results in the error-free creation of products and parts.

  • Mitigating Risks

    The technology also provides designers with the advantage of risk mitigation in manufacturing. It means that they can verify the design of the product prototype before investing in high-priced manufacturing tools, jigs, or molds.

    This eventually saves their time, money, and efforts while boosting their confidence to invest in large projects.

  • Safeguarding Intellectual Property

    Project confidentiality won't be a problem when it comes to additive manufacturing. Here, your designs cannot be stolen or claimed by third-party users.

    It is because the 3D printers will be undergoing continuous prototyping or manufacturing work. It will ensure that they won't leave the company and hence, designs will remain in-house.

  • Freedom of Customization

    Freedom of design customization is another point that makes the technology reliable. Many industries have embraced this concept to produce customized parts and components of the products.

    It helps shape the proof of concept and provides endless possibilities to develop new ideas.

  • Ensuring High Customer Satisfaction

    Customer satisfaction is highly important for the success of any business. As you can deliver the products as per their exact demands, they will remain satisfied with your brand. Besides, staying ahead of the competition and quick manufacturing of products at a cheaper rate will also help in increasing their satisfaction levels.

    Bonus read: How to Prepare Your Model for Flawless 3D Printing?

Conclusion

3D printing is bringing constant evolution in multiple industry sectors and has become an eminent part for more than a decade now. With the help of this technique, you can significantly lower your production costs, storage-related expenses, and other overheads and along with that there are many more benefits that can be achieved by the businesses if this technique is used correctly.

Besides, manual intervention can also be lessened while eliminating potential errors. Thus, by fine-tuning this technology, you can get more robust and versatile results for various applications. Also mastering this technology is not very technical, with some efforts and professional guidance one can easily be a master of the same, however there are multiple 3D printing service providers available that serve the best results and even guide you with the best options to choose from.

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Sushmita Roy   linkedin   instagram   twitter

A seasoned 3D professional with a creative focused, and a knack for diverse 3D designs, software and the technology. She's associated with ThePro3DStudio for long enough to prove her mettle and make every 3D projects successful. When she’s not busy working for a new project, she shares valuable insights from her own experience.