Historically, 3D printing has enabled design, engineering, architecture, and manufacturing companies to transform to become more efficient and strategic. Today this development has many other applications.
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a path towards innovation and efficiency in different production and industrial processes. This technology makes it possible to create objects by adding, layer by layer, materials such as plastic, metal alloys, concrete, and even living tissue. Its difference compared to other technological or manual processes is that, thanks to its precision, it creates unique and complex shapes.
What are its uses and what advantages does it offer for industries?
- Manufacture of prototypes. Since its inception, in the 80s of the last century, it has been used to develop fast, economical and accurate prototypes. Its added value is that it converts any design, created in computer software or scanned from a reference object, into an identical piece, up to 15 times faster than manual processes, with lower production costs and greater precision.
- Custom pieces. It allows taking the most disruptive and complex ideas to tangible objects. It can be applied for building tools, auto parts, architecture models, sketches, scale ideas, and even clothing and footwear. For example, the sports equipment company Under Armor has used 3D printing to manufacture shoes that adapt, like a second skin, to the anatomy and needs of athletes.
- geometric objects. Although 3D printers can manufacture any type of structure, geometric parts, which require precision, detail, multiple shapes and a minimum margin of error, are one of the great successes of this technology. The results are amazing, everything from gold rings and decorative pieces to drones have been manufactured.
- Cost optimization. Over the years, 3D printing technology has become more popular, which has allowed the costs of software, printers, and training for employees to be lower. From this change, which happened in the early years of the 21st century, companies began to perceive this as a viable option because it compensates the initial investment with the reduction of resources assigned to manual processes . This popularization happened at the same time that new manufacturers appeared, precision was improved and new materials were incorporated.
3D printing and medicine: two great allies
One of the industries that has most taken advantage of 3D printing is medical. In fact, due to its valuable contributions, some scientists see the future of medicine in it.
Currently, when the world is facing the spread of Covid-19, his contribution to science and society has been invaluable. With this technology, protection elements have been manufactured for health personnel and citizens in general, such as masks, glasses and protection screens.
And although today it is more visible than ever, its contribution is not recent. For more than two decades, scientists and doctors have developed, in the company of industrial designers and other experts in 3D printing, miniature kidneys, body prostheses, blood vessels, and biomodels. to perform surgical interventions. This technology has improved the quality of life for patients with anatomical alterations in their skull, face or maxillofacial area, with the advantage that it creates personalized pieces that fit perfectly.
3D printing is no longer an exclusive tool for creative processes, today companies that base their operations on the generation of supplies for any link in the production chain can include it in their processes to differentiate themselves from the competition, offer added values, be more innovative and contribute to social development.