Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or two you’ve probably heard about 3D printing. Although 3D printing technology has been around since the 1980’s, it hasn’t been until recent years that the 3D printer has downsized and made its way into the homes of everyday consumers. In fact, many consumers have probably seen products of industrial 3D printing without even knowing it. So while businesses continue to innovate and expand their uses of 3D industrial printers, consumers are also now getting in on the action and creating a variety of useful objects for around the home.
What do businesses use 3D printers for? Things like:
Prototypes: Businesses have been using 3D printers for years to make large and small prototypes quickly and efficiently. Before the rise of industrial 3D printers in the late 80’s many companies had to outsource the manufacturing of prototypes and as a result many prototypes took weeks just to arrive to a board meeting. Today, prototypes can be taken from concept to creation in a few hours or days thanks to industrial 3D printers.
Rapid Manufacturing: Rapid manufacturing is the process of a series of industrial 3D printers each producing certain components for a product that then can then later be put together by another machine or assembly line. Because it is relatively inexpensive to produce small parts on their own, theoretically RP technology could cut costs for many manufacturers across the board. Although RP technology is still a relatively new technology and still needs to be examined further to see if it truly does boost efficiency, many industry leaders believe this could be the future of manufacturing.
Academia: The academic and scientific communities are particularly excited about how 3D printing can improve their industries. Scans of skeletons, cells, microscopic organisms, and fragile artifacts that would not be able to survive being molded and then replicated can be 3D scanned and printed into unique life-size models for classrooms and laboratories. These communities are particularly excited about the ability to use the scans of skeletons of extinct species such as dinosaurs or even prehistoric humans to print accurate replications similar to the ones that can be seen in museums.
So what about consumers then, how do they use 3D printers? You may be surprised to learn that they use them for things like:
Custom Products: This is actually something that involves consumers, businesses, and 3D printers. Consumers now can choose to customize everything from cellphone cases to jewelry and have their favorite manufacturer print it and ship it right to their door or even create it themselves with home 3D printers.
Replacements: From lost game pieces to silverware consumers are finding it increasingly beneficial to be able to print replacements for everyday items instead of buying entirely new sets.
Small Toys: Many parents are getting a big smile out of seeing the big smile on their child’s face when a custom made action figure or toy car is made right in front of their eyes with a home 3D printer.
So the next time you see a unique phone case unlike any other or a prototype of the next-generation smartphone at a press-release, know that it may very well have come from a 3D printer. Perhaps one day the 3D printer will be as prevalent in homes as the inkjet printer and you too will have a home full of custom-made objects.
Independent Ink– specializes in providing leading security inks and coding inks for customers across many industries.