3D printing, a.k.a. additive manufacturing, is the process of a printing machine layering plastic, glass, metal, or ceramic, one row at a time, to create three-dimensional products. This is made possible through computer-aided design (CAD) programming that creates 3D files, which are then sent to an output device for production. While the technology has just recently gained major popularity, 3D printers have been around since the 1980s.
What Can 3D Printers Produce?
3D printers are capable of producing a large range of objects. Many inventors will use several types of printers for rapid prototyping and crafting their final products. Companies such as Adidas, Volkswagen, and Chanel have even 3D printed parts for shoes, vehicles, and mascara brushes.
How Fast Can They Print?
3D printers were once slower machines that could take days to finish. However, there are multiple techniques today that offer outstanding accuracy and speed. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printers, for example, build objects by “heating a thermoplastic filament to its melting point and extruding the thermoplastic layer by layer.” The WASP 2040 PRO Turbo (a FDM printer) is the fastest 3D printer in the world with a speed of 500mm/s.
Is 3D Printing Ready for Mass Production?
It’s getting closer! 3D printing currently complements mass produced products best by printing parts that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to make. Going back to Adidas, they 3D printed a midsole that was then added to the rest of the shoe. The key takeaways here are that businesses are beginning to be able to cut costs and speed up production with the help of a 3D printer, and they can now produce complex designs that were previously not feasible.
Learn More from Custom Technologies
Custom Technologies has a signature Minimum Viable Launch™ that will take your product to market quickly and cost effectively. We offer both subtractive processes like CNC and additive machining processes such as 3D printing. Let us help you decide what method of manufacturing is best for your business. Contact us today or visit customtechnologies.com.