One of the fastest-growing technological developments has been that of 3D printing. It is the process of depositing successive layers of material such as plastic, metal, or wax in a 3D printer to create a physical object based on a digital model.
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is already heavily adopted in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and industrial goods. Engineers in these industries use 3D printing for making parts that cannot be manufactured through conventional machining or laser processing techniques.
Interested in cutting-edge technology, mobile phone specialists Case24.com analyzed findings from online 3D printing services provider Sculpteo, which surveyed 1,000 professionals (from a range of industries) to better understand how they use 3D printing.
Case24 found that professionals are most commonly using 3D printing for prototyping (55%), ideal for tangibly showcasing a prospective model or concept and then getting instantaneous feedback on its design as well as functionality.
Thereafter, 43% apply 3D printing within their production process. In third position, 41% of experts believe 3D printing lets them prove the concept of a potential product will meet its desired and expected effect/output.
Interestingly, 18% of professionals use 3D printing to turn out valuable marketing samples. Slightly below that are 16% who are deploying 3D printing for artistic as well as educational purposes.
Opposingly, 10% consider 3D printing as a hobby, an area of their job they can experiment with and test out, when not focusing on the principle aspects of their role and responsibilities.
Furthermore, Case24.com also sought to identify from the report what the professionals’ thought were the biggest benefits they gain from using 3D printing.
The survey discovered that creating complex geometries (48%) is the greatest benefit professionals have experienced from 3D printing. Complex geometries refer to those models which are typically difficult to imagine but can easily be generated with a 3D printer.
Subsequently, 39% reported 3D printing reduced lead times of their production process. 30% stated installing 3D printers has made their operations financially more prudent. This is perhaps unsurprising, as 3D printers can make models several times with just the materials required thus, not only decreasing turnaround times but limiting money spent on raw materials.
Fascinatingly, 28% of experts believe 3D printing has improved their engineering redesigns. 22% place 3D printing as the primary attribute which has let them reduce the number of steps in their assembly line.
Given many organizations drive to constantly achieve efficiency where and when possible, 18% think 3D printing has aided their continuous improvement policies.
On the other hand, a mere 8% feel 3D printing has improved their remote production capabilities. Just above that group, 9% cite the use of 3D printers as an important factor in them successfully achieving supply chain optimization.