3D printing, Which is also known as additive manufacturing, is becoming more and more popular with manufacturers. The demand for it is growing due to some of the revolutionary benefits it has to offer.
However, like almost any technology, it also has disadvantages that need to be considered. Advantages and Disadvantages of 3D Printers
What Are The Advantages of 3D Printing?
This manufacturing process has several advantages over traditional manufacturing methods.
1. Design Flexibility
3D printers can be used to design and print more complex structures than traditional manufacturing methods. More traditional methods have design limitations that do not apply to 3D printing.
2. Rapid Prototyping
3D printers can produce parts within hours, which speeds up the prototyping process. As a result, each step can be completed faster. Compared to machine prototyping, 3D printing is cheaper and faster in producing parts because a part can be produced in a matter of hours.
3. Print On Demand
Print-on-demand is another advantage because, unlike traditional production methods, it does not require large storage space. This saves space and money as there is no need to print large runs when they are not needed.
All 3D design files are stored in the virtual library as they are printed along with the 3D model as CAD or STL files, which means they can be found and printed as needed. Design changes can be made very economically by editing individual files.
4. Durable And Lightweight Parts
The main material used for 3D printing is plastic, although some metals can also be used. However, plastics have advantages because they are lighter than their metal counterparts.
This is especially important in industries such as the automotive and aerospace industries, where lightweight is an important factor and can lead to improved fuel efficiency.
In addition, parts can be made from special materials to achieve certain properties, such as heat resistance, increased strength, or water repellency.
5. Rapid design and manufacture
Depending on the design and complexity of the part, an object can be 3D printed in a few hours, much faster than cast or machined parts.
3d printing not only saves time in the manufacture of individual elements but also speeds up the design process by creating STL or CAD files that can then be printed.
6. Waste Minimization
To manufacture a part, only the materials required to manufacture the model itself are required. Compared to alternative methods of cutting large parts from non-recyclable materials, there is practically no waste.
This process not only saves resources but also reduces the cost of the materials used.
What Are The Disadvantages of 3D Printing?
Like almost any other process, 3D printer technology has drawbacks that should be considered.
1. Limited Materials
While 3D printing can be used to create products from a variety of plastics and metals, the range of raw materials available is not comprehensive. This is due to the fact that not all metals and plastics can be thermally exposed in 3D printing.
In addition, many of these printed materials are not recyclable and some are unsafe for food.
2. Limited Size
Currently, 3D printers have small print chambers that limit the size of parts. Anything larger must be printed in separate parts and assembled after production.
This can increase the cost and time required to produce large parts, as the printer must print more parts before they can be assembled by hand.
Most 3D printed parts require some form of cleaning to remove the backing and flatten the surface to achieve the desired finish. Finishing methods include waterjet, sanding, chemical soak and rinse, air or heat drying, assembly, and others.
The amount of post-processing required depends on factors such as the size of the part being manufactured, the intended use, and the type of 3D printing technology used for production.
So, while 3D printers can produce parts quickly, post-processing can slow down production speeds.
4. Large Volumes
Compared to more traditional methods such as injection molding, 3D printing is a static type process that can be more cost-effective for high volume production.
The initial investment in 3D printers is lower than in other manufacturing processes, but when it comes to high volume production, unit costs are not reduced as is the case with injection molding.
5. Reduction of Jobs In The Manufacturing Industry
Another disadvantage of 3D technology is the potential reduction in human labor since most of the production is automated and done by printers.
Many third-world countries rely on low-skilled jobs to sustain their economies, and this technology could jeopardize these jobs by requiring production to be relocated overseas.