A recent report projects that 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is expected to see double-digit growth in the next few years.
The projections come from an exhaustive report by Research and Marketing. This consumer affairs organization conducts detailed trend research. The report stated that by 2022, additive manufacturing and 3D printing would see 30.2% growth. That represents an unprecedented $22.2 billion in growth.
It’s currently challenging to predict where and how 3D printing innovation will come from. Entrepreneurs are finding new ways to use these evolving technologies every day. And established companies are adopting the tech also to save money.
In fact, there are more industries currently using 3D printing and additive manufacturing than you might think.
In the following article, we’ll look at seven industries maximizing their 3D printing capabilities.
Additive Manufacturing Basics
How does 3D printing work? Additive manufacturing is the process of building a 3D digital design and building it with a printer. This machine lays down successive layers of material. A person makes the 3D-designs through CAD programs and is already revolutionizing the field of industrial design.
One of the reasons for this is additive manufacturing’s ability to create items at the sub-mm scale. Also, there is little waste when using additive manufacturing. Conventional tooling can create up to 90% of stock waste. That is to say, the process is less like carving from a block of wood and more like building the part from the ground up from Lego blocks.
Due to the success and excitement around additive manufacturing, varieties of 3D printing have come down in price. The technology is now taking root in smaller companies and a wide number of untraditional settings.
It’s not uncommon to see 3D printers in elementary schools. You can also find them at town libraries. This reflects the importance of this emerging manufacturing tool. It also shows how many people are interested in technology.
Here are some of the industries benefiting from this new manufacturing tech.
The aerospace industry was one of the first manufacturing groups to turn to 3D printing. The precision and enormous costs associated with creating aircraft are intense. Much of this cost comes in manufacturing parts and research.
It’s also a multi-billion dollar industry where competition is fierce. Adapting to the latest manufacturing technology and discovering innovations is an industry hallmark.
The aircraft and associated parts need precision crafting. The parts also need to withstand incredible stress while remaining lightweight. Additive manufacturing has meant a change in how industry leaders make parts. Three-dimensional printing can reduce waste and allow for fuel efficiency and climate-friendly products.
Infrastructure projects can run into billions of dollars, and every state needs work done. A recent report stated that 75% of the United States needed major infrastructure improvements. Tunnels, roads, dams, and bridges are some of the major projects.
Additive manufacturing does at least two things to reduce the cost of infrastructure construction. The first is reducing the cost of parts that can handle high stress. Since 3D printing is 90% percent efficient in most cases, the cost of parts is less due to the waste reduction. The other benefit of additive manufacturing is in infrastructure development. Builders can manufacture custom materials on-site or in constricted workspaces. This cuts down on transportation. It also affects installation costs for these types of important infrastructure projects.
Medical use of additive manufacturing often sounds more like science fiction. But the technology’s use is changing this field. From 3D printing organs to custom prosthetics, additive manufacture is changing the face of medicine.
Corneas, skin, bones, and ears are near approval for use on humans. And muscle, heart, and lung tissue are considered within reach.
The technology is already in use for creating artificial limbs. And since the process does not need an entire factory floor to create the prosthetics, people experiment with the technology worldwide.
Again, the technology’s ability to create items at an incredibly small scall makes it perfect to manufacture at the cellular level. Imagine creating cells to experiment with new drugs or manufacturing skin to help burn victims. All these applications are within reach with additive manufacturing.
4) Automotive – Additive Manufacturing
Three-dimensional printing has revolutionized the automotive industry. You can find it in custom paneling and interior ductwork. And traditional manufacturing often cannot match the detail in additive manufacturing.
Only a slight cut below aerospace in its willingness to adopt new technology quickly. The automotive industry uses additive manufacturing to create lightweight elements. The tech also can handle the open road’s high-stress demands.
These parts also need to have the highest level of dependability to ensure rider safety and resiliency.
One of the lesser-known use of 3D printing in the automotive sector is in custom and classic cars. Vehicle restorers pour through junkyards across the country. But now these classic car enthusiasts are making parts. If the plans or the specs are known, there’s practically nothing 3D printers can’t manufacture.
5) Sporting goods
Small manufacturers are using 3D printing to build custom lacrosse sticks and mountain bike parts.
A whole cottage industry has sprung up using 3D printing to create custom fishing lures. It is also used to make specialty products for baseball, football, and soccer.
6) Marketing – Additive Manufacturing
Marketing groups utilize additive manufacturing to create custom props, sets, and novelty items. These are popular with customers because they can fulfill the desire for unique content. Using 3D printing, marketers control the number of products purchased from a few dozen to many thousand.
7) Edible Goods
One of the more wild (and popular) uses of additive manufacturing is for food. Printers can make tasty edibles in intricate designs. Or they can make highly specific edibles designed to maximize dietary needs.
A New Future – Additive Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing isn’t just creating a new way to manufacture products we use daily; it’s creating new jobs.
The demand for people trained to design and use these incredible tools is on the rise. Top universities across the country are adding more additive manufacturing courses all the time. The field is truly revolutionizing the manufacturing industry in the 21st Century.
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