3D Printing is exploding as one of the top technologies in the manufacturing industry. Let’s examine some product- and industry-focused use cases of 3D printing in manufacturing. The below examples are ways that leading companies have used 3D printing for production-quality parts in the field:
• Aerospace: The plastic materials used in 3D printing have proven worthwhile in lessening the weight of parts while providing the required strength and durability — key elements in aerospace. Applications cover air ducts, hinges, nozzles, panels, interior components and more. 3D printing is also great for quickly producing replacement components and parts, decreasing turnaround times, and benefitting inventory management.
• Automotive: Like the aerospace industry, automotive applications benefit by the lower weight that 3D-printed components can often give, enhancing fuel efficiency and overall performance. Automotive uses include gear sticks, safety gloves, brackets, engine covers, interior structures such as seats and more. 3D printing is exceptionally well-suited for luxury vehicle applications where less inventory is required. Though major companies have used the process for longer production runs, as well.
• Medical: The ability of 3D printing to create highly complex, detailed designs with tight tolerances has proven well-suited to the medical industry. In addition, as more biocompatible materials have been improved for use in 3D printing, use cases have grown. 3D printing applications in the medical field include surgical tools for use in highly specialized surgeries, prosthetics and implants, dentures, medical devices such as catheters, hearing aids, dental uses such as dentures and aligners, and more.
As you can see, 3D printing has come a long way from its beginnings as a prototyping tool. It continues to grow and develop. As it does, it is improving and advancing the entire manufacturing industry as a whole.
For full details on more use cases, and the companies that have relied on 3D printing, see the accompanying infographic.