There are various unexpected ways 3D printing is making inroads into different industries and sectors.
3D printing is a highly versatile technology and it is evolving rapidly. There are now more and more applications for it, and several ways that it can change how people do business.
Making Onshoring Attractive Again
Onshoring is where you source your production domestically, rather than overseas.
For much of UK manufacturing, onshoring was the norm, until the 1980s. With the growth of globalisation, more and more companies switched their production overseas.
This meant they could benefit from cheaper labour and raw material costs.
But UK manufacturing is now undergoing a new kind of revolution, and 3D printing’s ability to cut lead times, fast-track product development and drive efficiency is making onshoring attractive once again.
Additive manufacturing is specialised, but it is a growing sector, with estimates that the UK could win £5bn of this growing global market.
3D Printing Replacement Parts
Machinery, equipment, devices and appliances all suffer wear and tear during their working lives.
Sourcing and waiting for spare or replacements can be frustrating, time-consuming and expensive.
Manufacturers must balance production costs, lead times and what to keep in stock.
3D printing offers a viable alternative. Regardless of their rarity, it is possible to generate new parts much more rapidly and cost-effectively, even as one-offs.
Even where a part is missing, it is possible to reverse-engineer it and produce a 3D printed version that matches the dimensions and properties of the original.
3D printing has the potential to transform the spare parts industry, cutting lead times and working with virtual inventories to optimise availability.
Game-changing Jewellery Design
Jewellery design is changing with the use of 3D printing technology. It can create pieces that look and feel like traditionally-crafted jewellery, but using 3D prototyping, modelling and printing.
More jewellers are using these modern methods to create new designs, taking advantage of the convenience of digital modelling for editing and refining them.
3D printing also means jewellery designers can let clients see and try on prototypes before proceeding with final design and production.
This improves the buying experience, while integrating a digital workflow into more traditional methods.
Printing Fashion of the Future
3D printing can create clothing designs too and is set to alter how we produce textiles.
This goes beyond designing and printing fashion, even enabling customers to print their own clothes from the digital 3D designs that designers supply them with.
3D printing technology is also changing the nature of textiles, offering more opportunities for the manufacture of smart textiles.
These textiles come from interweaving strands of filament into fabrics that are designed to move and feel like conventional clothing.
Potential properties for smart clothing include being fireproof, bulletproof and being able to retain heat.
Next Generation Eyewear
3D printing can create individual frames for glasses, enabling limitless customisation.
By using this technology, eyewear designers can cater for all sorts of different face sizes, ensuring the perfect fit every time.
With rapid prototyping capabilities to match the exact colour and texture of finished products, 3D printing is accelerating the production of high quality eyewear.
It is bringing down production costs too, so customers spend less, as well as having less time to wait for their bespoke eyewear.
Automotive Tooling for Car Parts
In the automotive industry, 3d printing is becoming firmly established as a rapid prototyping tool, but it is also helping drive down manufacturing lead times for car parts.
Where specialist tooling requires specific parts, such as custom jigs, 3D printing is augmenting workflows by creating these pieces directly for the production line.
Single car parts can require various custom tools, but 3D printing reduces the complexity and time involved to produce these low-volume items.
Improving Aerospace Efficiency
Aircraft manufacturers are discovering that 3D printed parts are as strong as parts that have been made using traditional moulding methods.
But 3D printed parts have the added advantage of being more lightweight, which then enables the aerospace to make considerable savings.
Changing production in this way can have a knock-on effect on aircraft payloads, emissions and fuel consumption.
And it reduces production costs.
How Can 3D Printing Support Your Business?
Discover more about the potential of 3D printing to help your business by calling Central Scanning Birmingham on 01527 558 282.