Updated: Jul 24, 2020
"The next industrial revolution" are words that have been ringing through the ears of hobbyists and tech gurus. It definitely holds some truth when looking at industrial applications of 3D printing. But the average consumer is yet to feel the true impact. The question is what is holding it back?
Some of you may have heard about how revolutionary the 3D printing technology is and all the capabilities and magic that can be done with a 3D printer, but this is something that you have been hearing for the past 5 years and are yet to see the anything useful in a consumer environment.
Some of you may even have a 3D printer at home gathering dust. A piece of equipment you purchased to be ahead of the craze and be ready for whatever it has to offer, and are yet to fully realize what that is.
Types of 3D printing
The Oxford dictionary describes 3D printing as, "the action or process of making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model, typically by laying down many thin layers of a material in succession." This gives a good overview of what to expect but it is also important to know that there are different ways to achieve this as well as different materials that can be used.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
Digital Light Process (DLP)
Multi Jet Fusion (MJF)
Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)
Electron Beam Melting (EBM)
Protolabs give a nice breakdown of each type.
It is very likely that if you have a 3d printer at home then it is a FDM printer. Using a hot end extruder to build any shape your heart desires, layer by layer.
Nothing takes away from the fact that 3D printing has incredible capability that is being utilized in an industrial environment. Intricate robotics and aerospace components that would either be impossible or incredibly expensive to manufacture.
There are still limitations when attempting to mass produce, but that is not what 3D printing is meant for anyway
I have a 3D Printer, now what?
Many of you may have realized that it takes a lot more effort, to build whatever your heart desires, than initially thought.
The primary limiting factor is being able to create what you can image, and the only way to do this, is by means of 3D modelling programs, which most of the time have an incredibly steep learning curve. Sure, there are databases online with millions of pre-designed components, but what do you do if you want something very specific?
That broken component on your discontinued dishwasher perhaps? Or even a prototype for that great idea you have been meaning to get started?
Fortunately there is a solution to this problem. A low cost online design consulting service, like Ideas Central, that allows you to request your design from a dedicated mechanical engineer. These services even allow you to order your 3D model printed if you do not have a printer at home.
An Exciting Future
Being able to get designs custom made to suit each individuals' application and even get it printed and delivered to your door is the key to increasing the viability of consumer level 3D printing. And nowadays you are able to preview and approve your design with in a web browser without the need for complex 3D modeling programs. Enquire now at Ideas Central for a free quote