3D plastic printing magnifies the possibilities for producing plastic parts, production mold tooling, and short-run molds. Advancements in 3D printing have come a long way since cutting components out of foam material to showcase the part or mold. Today, 3D printing is improving plastics manufacturing and expanding the number of options for plastic components. The following is a list of six ways 3D printing is advancing manufacturing:
One: Better Customization
Dental products and medical devices are regularly customized using 3D printing with consumer products expected to follow soon. Leading the charge are footwear companies who are experimenting with 3D printing and new shoes to deliver an optimal fit to the wearer. The process is to use a 3D scan of an individual’s feet resulting in 3D printed shoes with customized midsoles for exact cushioning and support.
Two: Efficient Toolmaking
3D printing has historically been used to produce one-off parts, the most common being internal tooling including fixtures, jigs, mold tools, and various other industrial components. Many of these tools can be constructed from polymer instead of using metal and when created on a 3D printer, it does not consume production or much of the operator’s time.
Three: Larger Parts
Large 3D plastic printing equipment is being engineered to offer a build volume of up to 180 cubic meters, which is garnering a lot of attention. However, also notable is the range of machine models at various sizes that are much smaller than 180 cubic meters but can still produce large parts.
Four: Quicker Throughput
At specific scales, 3D plastic printing is becoming more of a production option, even at larger scales. Many 3D printers are developed with production in mind to generate parts faster than in the past. A quicker throughput is the result of cycle time reduction which delivers a lower unit cost.
Five: Rapid Prototyping
Like creating industrial components, 3D printing allows you to quickly make prototypes without consuming production resources. Desktop 3D printers are becoming so advanced that they can create functional prototypes. This can all be done quickly and efficiently without consuming time and resources which ultimately saves the company money.
Six: Short-Term Mold Making
Offering short lead times, 3D printing can quickly make an injection mold when using the right polymer. This type of mold is an excellent option for low-to-medium volume production quantities as opposed to waiting 8 weeks for a steel or aluminum mold. There are robust plastics in the marketplace that can last up to 500 cycles.
The advancements in 3D printing continue to amaze as operators and engineers are using this technology in creative manners to quickly develop industrial tools, prototypes, and even products. As technology improves, expect to see many amazing creations and applications from the world of 3D plastic printing.