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3D Printing: Building Block of the Future

Henry Jimenez

In recent years 3D printing has moved from being a tech novelty to a major part of the manufacturing process in many industries. Industries that have already been affected by the improvements made to 3D printing include aerospace, automotive, construction, manufacturing and medical. Usually a hallmark of the maker community, 3D printing is now being used at an industrial level, as costs continue to fall and quality rises, more and more manufacturing companies will continue to switch over to volume production of 3D printed parts or products.

For decades, the main use of 3D printing in industry has been for prototyping parts or product designs, but the process has always been slow, sometimes taking weeks to deliver a single piece or part. As technology improves manufacturers gain access to true rapid prototyping, instead of waiting weeks for parts or pieces, production can be done in a day. Products can be iterated through several designs in a matter of weeks instead of months, not only getting them to the market faster, but also saving companies time and money.

As uses for 3D printing in the medical sector continue to be explored and adopted, use cases seem almost endless. Through a process called Additive Manufacturing, surgical models are being created for training and trial purposes, hopefully this will become standard procedure to lessen the risk of complicated surgeries in the future. Another application of 3D printing, Bioprinting, a technology that uses inkjet style printers to print living tissue. Though still in its infancy, the technology is promising, with researchers already able to print functional blood vessels and cardiac tissues, it’s only a matter of time before fully functional organs can be printed.

As the possibility of growth and innovation continues to rise within the 3D printing market, companies are already beginning to adopt the new technology. This can only be a good thing for global society, with improvements in sectors like medical and manufacturing, not only will end users benefit from better tech but from the cheaper cost that companies are benefitting from as well.

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