With the introduction of 3D printing in both individual lives and in industrial manufacturing, it is easy to see how it is affecting us as a species. Many people are captivated by how something can be created from what seems to be thin air. It seems as though we are on the brink of the next industrial revolution in the history of mankind.
“The first industrial revolution drove the mechanization of the textile industry. The second industrial revolution brought the assembly line. Now the digital revolution is here and one of the most powerful breakthroughs is 3D printing.”
It was obvious from its inception that 3D printing was going to change the way we made objects, but not many people realized how useful it can actually be. With the introduction of many different types of filament (including basic plastics, photosensitive resins, ceramics, cements, glass, metals, metal alloys, and thermoplastic composites infused with carbon nano tubes and fibers) 3D printing can now be used as a viable alternative to conventional manufacturing processes. This is allowing 3D printing, otherwise known as additive manufacturing, to be used as a beneficial tool for making more than just plastic objects and industrial prototypes.
Additional applications for 3D printing are found all the time, including transportation assets, aerospace components, measurement devices, telecom infrastructure, and medical equipment. According to one industry CEO, the U.S. hearing aid industry converted all of it’s traditional manufacturing methods to additive manufacturing in less than 500 days. This quick transition is one of the many benefits that additive manufacturing can provide for an industry. These benefits include flexibility for change, customization, quicker set-up, fewer stages, a lower input of labor, and separate pieces can now be made in a single run. These advantages will change the way products are designed, made, bought, and delivered.