3D PRINTING SHIFTING THE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY PARADIGM
Could 3D Printing be the next industrial revolution? In the beginning, 3-D printing was seen as a fix for supply chain disruptions but now 3-D printing is seen ideally for short runs and custom fabrications. Currently, 3-D printing has been used primarily for prototyping in manufacturing and low volume production. A 3-D printing supply chain is necessary to get products on time.
3D Printing or Additive Manufacturing as is is also known, can be a slow procedure. A 3D printer reads a digital blueprint and then according to an input set of instructions methodically drops building material. This allows for the creation of a final product that is extremely detailed including intricate levels of design.
What 3D printing does that is valuable for manufacturing is that it allows for the printing of low volume, customer specific items. This brings manufacturing, in a sense, to the customer and eliminates the need for things such as low level assembly workers or even high volume production facilities. It shapes a new paradigm of thinking about manufacturing that is without tooling, without assembly lines or supply chains, essentially turning individuals, small businesses and even corporate departments into ‘makers’. Something that may come to be known in the near future as a do-it-yourself manufacturer.
The adoption of 3D technology has been high once wider scale adaptations and uses were identified. Specifically in manufacturing it will localize the process and simplify logistics as well as downsize transportation costs. Companies can deliver goods on much tighter timescales as well as being able to meet the demands of consumers for increasing customization. It also offers a cleaner and greener ideal for manufacturing. For instance, consumers can return 3D printed products to the manufacturer to be melted down so the materials may be recycled and reused to manufacture other products.