Advantages and Disadvantages of 3D Printing
Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing benefits almost every sector today. With the advancing technology, 3D printed models are becoming helpful in the Automotive, Aviation, healthcare, and architecture industries. The scope of 3D Printing is still unprecedented as this technology paves its way further into the society nurtured by modernization. But, like every technological advancement, can 3D Printing have drawbacks? The Advantages and Disadvantages of 3D Printing speculate the challenges it may face in the future.
What are the Advantages of 3D Printing?
As additive manufacturing advances, more and more sectors are expected to deploy it due to its numerous benefits. Leading manufacturing sectors have already considered the following advantages of 3D Printing.
1. Flexibility is one of the key advantages of 3D Printing
3D printing enables you to design even complex structures that are impossible to design through traditional printing otherwise. Manufacturers can produce components that generally have complex geometry and are difficult to make. Thus, the concept of 3D printing overcomes such limitations of traditional printing restrictions easily.
2. Quick Prototyping Solutions
Quick printing solutions are one of the significant benefits of additive manufacturing. Aerospace, Fashion, Automotive, Architecture, and healthcare industries use the technology to build prototypes that are quick to design and cost-effective.
One component designed on paper takes longer to be carved or manufactured manually. On the other hand, 3D printing eliminates these hassles and takes a few hours to finish the production.
3. 3D Printed Components are Durable & Lightweight
Metals and plastic materials are generally used to manufacture 3D printed components. Plastics are lighter than their metal counterparts. Plastic parts are helpful in the aerospace and aviation industries as they don’t put much weight on the aircraft.
Plastic parts help maintain the aircraft's better fuel efficiency. Different materials can also be mixed with plastic to increase heat and weather resistant properties to specific components.
4. Minimal Waste
The only thing that a 3D printer requires is the material to print. Since traditional designing methods incorporate different materials and machinery, there is little wastage of resources and non-recyclable materials in 3D printing.
The 3D printing process not only saves resources but also cuts the number of wastes and by-products. Even if there is any leftover, it can be recycled o reused.
Environment-friendliness is among the key advantages of 3D printing. As this technology cuts the amount of material wastage with no emissions and carbon footprints, it can be an eco-friendly option. The environmental benefits of 3D printing extend in terms of improved fuel efficiency from using lightweight parts.
What are the Disadvantages of 3D Printing?
Like with almost any other process there are also drawbacks of 3D printing technology which should be considered before opting to use this process.
1. Cost is among the biggest Disadvantages of 3D Printing Machines
The 3D printing machine price depends on the size and functionality, which can vary from $10,000 to $100,000 or higher. The newer the technology, the higher is the cost. The materials and equipment used in 3D printing is expensive in comparison to the traditional manufacturing material. To incur the least expenses, many companies lease 3D printing equipment or use a third party to access 3D printing machines.
2. Limited Materials
Since the printed material used in Aviation and aerospace industries is of high quality, companies can’t compromise with quality. However, the availability of quality raw material is one of the significant drawbacks of 3D printing. This is because not all the metals or plastics can be temperature controlled to allow 3D printing; only rare metals and plastics can be used.
3. Size Limitations of 3D Printing
Printers have small print chambers which limit the size of parts to be printed. As a result, you can print small-sized components, which is one of the most significant limitations of 3D printing technology. Bigger components will need to be printed in separate parts and joined together once printed. This not only increases costs and time but also makes the printing process complicated.
4. Reduction in Manufacturing Jobs
The things that could be done through manual labour are done using 3D printers. Reduced jobs in the manufacturing and designing sectors are concerning disadvantages of 3D printing technology. Since most of the production is automated, the production is handled by computers.
Many developing countries still rely on low skill jobs to keep their economies running, and this technology could cut these manufacturing jobs by automating the manufacturing process.
5. Prohibited Components and Pirated Products
Since an automated 3D printer awaits user’s commands, it’s easy to create illegal or prohibited components such as Guns, knives, explosives. Theoretically, 3D printing technology can print everything. If it’s so, this technology is open access for people to break laws for self-interest.
With the advances in the coming times, it will also be possible to forge Credit cards, and card readers as criminals can easily use them. Also, forgers can easily copy a genuine product and create its first-hand copies. This would lead to piracy issues and violation of copyrights.
Conclusion on 3D Printing Advantages and Disadvantages
As future technology is expected to be more advanced and cheaper, the disadvantages of 3D printing will also be circumcised. This means users and companies would tend to more pros of 3D technology rather than its limitations. Cost reduction is one of the foreseen factors that may encourage companies to use this technology on a broader scale. Eventually, this technology will change the landscape of manufacturing.