Potentially, many, many years from now, 3D printing will expand to replace traditional manufacturing as we know it today. However, this is not likely to be something we see in our lives. In the near future, 3D printing could significantly modify some processes within the industry. Then there is the relative cost of high-volume production.
Sure, if you're just making a small batch of 100 items or less, it could be cheaper and easier to 3D print. But if you're manufacturing items in the 100,000, then more traditional methods will probably give you better value for money. We often seek to explain the world in the simplest terms so that the masses understand our point of view. However, the idea of 3D printing replacing traditional manufacturing is a thorough assessment of the technology and the benefits it can bring.
The complexity of modern manufacturing and understanding of the methods of mass and scale production of certain products that 3D printing may never match is lost. And it's driven by anecdotal evidence in which one technology replaced another in the past, to the point that this is supposed to be the rule. But just because transistors destroyed the vacuum tube industry, CDs replaced cassette tapes and DVRs replaced VHS, ending production of those industries' components doesn't mean that 3D printing will do the same in every industry. For the past ten years or so, we have seen 3D printing technology, also called additive manufacturing, gain momentum in the industry.
In fact, it has become so commonplace that some speculate that it could replace traditional manufacturing in the not-too-distant future. While I can see many benefits from this incredible new technology, and while I agree that it will one day affect our lives, such as the way in which we as consumers purchase many common household items, I have reservations about how much the need for manufacturing processes will ultimately change traditional as we know them. Due to limitations in the mixing of printing materials and the fact that the materials available for use in printing are not always the best for a particular application, everything that can be printed should not be printed. It's not a particular problem if the 3D printer lives in a large warehouse, but it can be problematic to have a closet full of different types of filaments, for every 3D printing eventuality.
A new company is marketing a housing kit for small desktop 3D printers, including popular Prusa models. Also, sticking to 3D printing is good for creating things like buttons, game pieces, kitchen drawers, toys, or mechanical items. As mentioned above, although the technique is highly efficient in product design and redesign, the time required to print the required part may be second best compared to what injection molding can achieve. The rise of 3D printing has led some to speculate on the transformative effects it could have on traditional supply chains.
For example, DLP 3D printers can create items with a height of 0.0225 mm on the Z axis, which is thin enough to distinguish even the smallest details. All you have to do is sit on your sofa, download a model and 3D print it on your desk while you have your morning coffee. This week's selection is the massive MCGYBEER, a contributor to Articulated Dragon by Cults, and printed to scale by Metalhead Printing. However, a 3D printing alternative represents quite the opposite, since products can be printed and distributed locally, with low transportation costs to match, leading some commentators to speculate too enthusiastically on the changing dynamics of traditional supply chains.
While some predict that technology will change the way certain products are manufactured, most fall short of the view that 3D printing will fundamentally reform global supply chains on a universal basis. Along with technological advances, such as advanced robotics and open source electronics, 3D printing is making its way onto the agendas of business leaders looking to streamline manufacturing and distribution processes. Cited by some as “the next industrial revolution,” 3D printing is slowly reshaping the traditional supply chain and could possibly be the most disruptive advance since progressive assembly. Currently, there are a large number of 3D printers on the market that can mix colored plastics, either by using different printing nozzles or by feeding different colors, at different times, through the same printing nozzle.