2020-2021 has been one for the ages... a global pandemic, social and political upheavals and a continued dependance on technology to muddle through it all. As global supply chains buckled under the stress of covid, new and innovative means left their mark. The collective pool of the 3D printing community helped local hospitals and businesses acquire the needed PPE to carry on and maintain through the initial weeks and months. The continued move towards automated manufacturing is proving to be more mainstream now than ever. With this being said, how and where does 3D printing fit into this equation?
The advantage of 3D design and manufacturing excels in the area of exotic design and production. Tooling machines to create non-linear parts, requires additional time, resources and training. Not to mention initiating the entire process all over again to build out the next new part. This is where 3D design/modeling and printing changes the paradigm. As the advancement of 3D printers in terms of size, scale and materials used for modeling and manufacturing expand, the need for large scale investment in production lines begins to decrease.
The ability to print exotic/unique parts in a single batch not withstanding the time needed to print the part is a game changer. Using materials such as carbon fiber, ASA, nylons, resin and even concrete to quickly produce products that are useable, sustainable and not cost prohibitive provides accessibility to a larger and more diverse population. Housing and urban development is beginning to utilize 3D printing to create homes that are affordable, structurally sound and ecologically responsible. Providing shelter for homeless people in the urban areas, temporary facilities for migrants and wildlife shelter and habitat restoration are being built utilizing this process.
Beyond the medical industry, retail manufacturing is looking to capitalize on the single part print/on demand accessibility that helps to cut down on storage site a stock capacity, reducing cost and liability. Investment by large scale companies such as UPS , Microsoft and 3M continues to provide legitimacy to this additive manufacturing helping to move the needle ever forward.
So can 3D printing save the world...? To be a bit bias yes!! we think it can definitely help...
but hey that's our take on it!