Applications of 3D Printing in Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing is a relatively new manufacturing process that combines computer-aided design software (CAD) and hardware that creates products by layering material on top of itself. Additive manufacturing is a rapidly expanding industry that continues to reach into more areas. As more types of materials can be used by the additive manufacturing process, the farther the reach will be. 

For this article, we are going to focus mainly on how 3D printing has become a major focal point in the rejuvenation of the manufacturing sector of the US economy. While there are literally dozens of areas of manufacturing that have seen an uptick in the use of additive manufacturing technologies, we decided to focus on five of the top manufacturing areas in the US to date. 

Top 5 Uses for 3D Printing in Manufacturing 

Creating wax modeling for jewelry manufacturing 

Jewelry is one of the fastest-growing segments of the manufacturing industry in the US. While little has changed in the traditional manufacturing processes in jewelry making up until now. With the proliferation of 3D printing technology, the jewelry-making industry is in the midst of a revolution of innovation of sorts. Thanks to 3D modeling and 3D printing with wax, jewelry has become much easier and cheaper to manufacture. The technology combines two different 3D technologies to produce the wax model that is used in the casting process; 3D printing and 3D modeling software program. 

Rapid prototyping of automotive parts manufacturing 

The automotive industry has relied heavily on parts suppliers to keep them stocked with the parts that are necessary to build their cars. That has changed recently thanks to 3D printing rapid prototyping technologies. They are able to create necessary low-volume specialty parts that can be incorporated into car manufacturing. Being able to print these small parts such as jigs and other necessary parts and cut down on lead times. 3D printing has helped automotive manufacturing by allowing them to save time and money by making their own low-volume parts and other items to enhance their manufacturing processes. 

Creating replacement and spare parts 

3D printing can also fill a unique need in today’s business climate that requires flexibility and nimbleness. A key to manufacturing is the ability to produce a high volume of products safely and cost-effectively. Unfortunately, machinery breaks down, that is a fact of life for a manufacturing business and the people that run them. When a machine breaks down and replacement parts are not readily available puts a heavy amount of stress on the business. Having a 3D printer and CAD software, the parts can be created in no time. This in itself becomes invaluable to the success of the business. 

Creating lighter-weight parts for the aerospace industry 

All across the country, the US aerospace industry has been seeing a big surge in growth. With the renewed interest in space travel and air travel, the aerospace industry is growing. 3D printing or additive manufacturing has been a big help to the aerospace industry. By providing a manufacturing process that helps to reduce the weight, size, and strength of parts that go into a large number of today’s aircraft. By reducing the overall weight of different equipment substantially reduce the number of different metrics associated with sending rockets and people into space. 

Encouraging onshoring in the manufacturing industry

For more than several dozen years, the US economy has shed millions of manufacturing jobs to what is known as offshoring. What offshoring is when a business leaves the US greener that is when a company picks up its business roots and leaves the United States. Now, as 3D printing has continued to evolve more and more former US manufacturers are starting to look to come back and repatriate jobs back to American. 

* Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/UqCCSbAIaDU

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