The 3D printing industry has seen much changes in 2014, in both the industrial and prosumer scene. Throughout 2014 Creatz3D has uncovered and discovered countless numbers of new 3D printing applications. The hard part comes in determining what is applicable in the local scene? What would Singapore companies or prosumer be interested in? Taking all these into consideration, Creatz3D has come up with “2014 top 5 3D printing industry applications”.
3D printing has improved the design process in the architecture industry by leaps and bounds. With the design process being an integral part in the industry, it has attributed to the increased popularity amongst architects. This basic application of being able to automate the model design process has saved architects both time and money as compared to the traditional Styrofoam scale model.
But this is just a fraction of what 3D printing can do for the architecture industry. These 3D printed models can also be used in wind-tunnel testing, earthquake shake test as well as in urban landscape planning.
Every architectural project is unique, at times customized fascia may need to be produced and incorporated into the interior finishing. 3D printing enables architect to design and produce these fascia in a seamless process, without the need for customized tooling equipment.
Specialise tools and jigs can be made to assist in the building and assembly of the building. Ultimately these new processes and designs would translate into actual structures which will be built for every one of us.
When 3D printing is mentioned, medical applications would not be something that comes to mind of an average consumer. However in 2014, 3D printing medical application is picking up and essentially becoming an integral part of medical practitioners. The myriad of applications such as 3D printed surgical guides, pre-operation planning with 3D printed models obtain from MRI scan has helped to reduce the risk factor through reduction of surgery time span. In practice, medical devices have even been 3D printed for either a more ergonomic feel or as a replacement part.
While this may seem innovative, some argue that the models become redundant after the operating procedure is completed.
They say that the next generation are our future, as such, education facilities have had an ongoing conscious effort to equip our next generation with the enabling tools of the 21st century. 3D printing technologies has been the up and coming phenomenon in the 21st century. From having educational industrial partnerships to educational programs and curriculum. Singapore education landscape has been at the forefront of 3D printing adoption.
Education institutions not only provide new and exciting programs and curriculums in 3D printing. It has also enabled innovative improvements to existing ones, in medical schools pre-operation medical models as mentioned above can be also used for medical studies after the procedure has been completed. New and advance engineered prototypes can be printed out, studied and improved upon. Animations model can be rendered and produced in a matter of days as compared to weeks when done through traditional methodology.
3D printing in the manufacturing industry has come to the point where industrial players have started to rethink their work process. The industrial applications have come a long way from just prototyping and concept modelling.
The introduction of new thermoplastics and photopolymers from Stratasys as well as the material properties of ARCAM 3D metal printing technology has enabled companies to produce customized parts in low volume as well as eliminating tooling cost and long lead times.
The digitalization of product has reduced overhead cost as well as accommodate design changes for increased agility which in turn eliminates parts delay. Customizable jigs and fixtures can now be produced in days instead of weeks and can now even have embedded information and soft touch areas incorporated into the design.
3D printing however is not here to replace traditional techniques, it is instead used to complement and in turn improve business workflow. Thermoforming for instance requires the strategic drilling of holes within the mold in order to enable airflow through it. Using Stratasys FDM technology, honeycomb structure can be designed into the mold and 3D printed. The porous nature of the honeycomb structure allows better air ventilation as compared to one or two strategically drilled holes.
One of the slowest but surely most impactful industry in adopting 3D printing is the aerospace industry. Although applications in the aerospace industry does not see 3D printed replacement parts as what you would see in sci-fiction movies. There are many different ways that 3D printing has played a part in the aerospace industry.
Cost of error in this industry is quite substantial and many prototypes done in casted materials can take long lead time be costly to produce. 3D printed models and prototypes however are able to overcome this and increase speed to market in the ever competitive landscape. Airline manufacturers gain the additional benefit of being able to keep their design in house.
Light weight tools and assembly aids can also be created overnight, without the stress and risk of outsourcing to external vendors. Hybrid parts comprising of 3D printed parts as well as traditional casted parts can bring about a significant reduction in the weight of an aircraft.
With all the benefits that 3D printing brings about to all these different industry, there comes the question that 3D printing will replace traditional manufacturing. As mentioned above, 3D printing is not about replacing techniques, it is about enabling of new production creation previously thought near impossible with traditional techniques.