What is 3D printing?
3D printing is the process of creating a three-dimensional object, which is generally done by laying down layers of a given material. This is considered an additive manufacturing process and the materials often include plastics such as PLA or ABS, metals, nylons, and more.
It really depends on what industry your business is in and how creative you want to think. You may have heard about people 3D printing organs or people that are using 3D printing to print food. There is so much that you can do depending on what kind of machine you’re working with and what materials are available. You may not even realize that there are ways that 3D printing can benefit your business, but it allows for an accurate way to create parts, models, and unique marketing materials.
Some examples of how you can use 3D printing in your business are:
- Prototyping your latest and greatest designs
- End use parts (or hey, were you missing a piece from your last Ikea purchase? 3D print a new one)
- Functional models
- Tooling, jigs, and other engineering applications
- Promotional items – phone cases, key chains, golf tees, cufflinks…you name it!
- Architectural models, site plans, and environmental planning
- Artistic sculptures
What are the benefits to 3D printing?
Customization to your heart’s content. 3D printing allows for easier customization of products. There’s very little that needs to be done in order to get customized with your product. It only takes an update to the design in the software for you to adjust your design and then you let the printer take care of the work.
No tools necessary. With the right design, there’s no need for any additional tools. 3D printing reduces the price on processes that can normally be expensive due to labour and time.
Be kinder to the environment. When you look at the method of 3D printing versus traditional methods of production, it is typically far more efficient. The process itself does not produce very much waste so by creating less waste, it’s a much more sustainable method of production.
A new level of complexity. 3D printing allows for products that are much more complex and more complicated. There’s a great advantage for various industries in being able to 3D print products that are more precise than anything that they could produce in another way. There are even some designs (such as the photo below) that can’t be produced in any other way except for with 3D printing. It opens up so many possibilities for what we can design.
- 16 things you can 3D print with your MakerBot
- 18 office printers that are so done with their workplace
- The true cost of Comic Sans and other printing peculiarities
Brittany Giles is the Social Media Specialist at The Printing House