Over the last five years, 3D printing technology has gone from being a futuristic process used by only a few large businesses to an everyday technology that is rapidly making inroads in practically every industry. In the process, 3D printing has revolutionized many aspects of the manufacturing process. Here are a few of the top ways in which 3D printing is changing the world.
Decreasing the Cost of Customization
One of the fantastic aspects of 3D printing is the fact that it can be used to easily customize a product for a person’s needs and tastes. Because a virtually limitless number of different products can be printed on a single machine, the cost of customization in 3D printing is extremely low. The only additional effort needed to customize a 3D-printed product is the time it takes to alter the product’s digital design. Compared to the need for the entirely different pieces of manufacturing equipment that are needed to customize more traditionally produced goods, this cost is virtually negligible.
Making Prosthetics Better and Cheaper
Historically, prosthetic limbs for amputees and people born with physical deformities have been extremely costly. Thanks to 3D printing, though, the cost of prosthetics is coming down substantially. Today, a 3D-printed prosthetic hand can be made for as little as $15, compared to the thousands of dollars the same prosthetic would cost if it were made with more traditional manufacturing processes. Besides merely being cheaper, 3D-printed prosthetics are also typically better-fitting for patients than their conventional counterparts. In addition to hands, 3D printing has also been used to make prosthetic feet, arms, and legs. 3D printing can also help dentists with root canals, and even implants.
Image courtesy of North Austin Dentistry
Democratizing the Manufacturing Process
Perhaps the most significant way in which 3D printing is changing the world is its ability to make everyone a manufacturer. As desktop 3D printers have become more available and less expensive, people have gained the ability to easily make plastic parts in their very own homes using a single piece of equipment. Now, people can design and manufacture their individual parts and items whenever they need to. This represents a massive upset in the traditional manufacturing model since the process of making items is now decentralized and less dependent on factory facilities. And in addition to the 3D printers themselves, there are a number more softwares these days with new and advanced designers in mind to help you create designs with more intuitive interfaces.
Another result of the democratizing power of 3D printing is its ability to facilitate entrepreneurship. 3D printing technology has dramatically lowered the barrier to entry into the manufacturing market, allowing practically any entrepreneur with an idea and a 3D printer to begin producing his or her product on a small scale. As 3D printers become better and allow for the easy processing of a greater range of materials, the number of startups leveraging them will likely only continue to increase.
These are just a few of the remarkable ways in which 3D printing is gradually changing the world. Given the rapid pace at which the technology is spreading through various industries, 3D printing is poised to become a day-to-day part of both work and ordinary life for people around the globe.
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