Advantages of 3d printing
- Manufacture complex items without increasing costs
As far as traditional manufacturing is concerned, the more complex the shape of an object, the higher the manufacturing cost. For 3D printers, the cost of manufacturing complex-shaped items does not increase the cost. Manufacturing a gorgeous and complex-shaped item does not consume more time, skill or cost than printing a simple block. Manufacturing complex items without adding cost will disrupt traditional pricing models and change the way we calculate manufacturing costs.
- Product diversification does not increase costs
A 3D printer can print many shapes, it can be like a craftsman to make items of different shapes every time. Traditional manufacturing equipment has fewer functions and can make a limited variety of shapes. 3D printing saves the cost of training mechanics or purchasing new equipment. A 3D printer only needs a different digital design blueprint and a new batch of raw materials.
- No assembly required
3D printing can make parts integrally formed. While traditional mass production was based on assembly lines, in modern factories machines produce identical parts that are then assembled by robots or workers (even across continents). The more parts a product has, the more time and cost it takes to assemble. 3D printers can print a door and its supporting hinges at the same time through layered manufacturing, without assembly. Omitting assembly shortens the supply chain, saving money on labor and shipping. The shorter the supply chain, the less pollution there is.
- Zero time delivery
3D printers can print on demand. Just-in-time production reduces the physical inventory of enterprises, and enterprises can use 3D printers to manufacture special or customized products according to customer orders to meet customer needs, so new business models will become possible. Zero-time-delivery production minimizes the cost of long-distance transportation if the things people want are produced close to where they are needed.
- Unlimited design space
Traditional manufacturing techniques and craftsmen make products with limited shapes, and the ability to make shapes is limited by the tools used. For example, traditional wooden lathes can only make round objects, rolling mills can only process parts assembled with milling cutters, and pattern-making machines can only create molded shapes. 3D printers can break through these limitations, opening up a huge design space, and even making shapes that currently may only exist in nature.
- Zero-skill manufacturing
Traditional craftsmen need several years of apprenticeship to master the required skills. Mass production and computer-controlled manufacturing machines have reduced skill requirements, yet traditional manufacturing machines still require skilled professionals for machine adjustment and calibration. 3D printers obtain various instructions from design files, and to do the same complex items, 3D printers require less operational skills than injection molding machines. Unskilled manufacturing opens up new business models and enables new ways for people to produce in remote environments or in extreme situations.
- Does not take up space, portable manufacturing
In terms of unit production space, compared with traditional manufacturing machines, 3D printers have stronger manufacturing capabilities. For example, an injection molding machine can only make objects much smaller than itself, whereas a 3D printer can make objects as large as its print bed. After the 3D printer is debugged, the printing equipment can move freely, and the printer can manufacture objects larger than itself. High throughput per unit space makes 3D printers suitable for home or office use because they require little physical space.
- Reduce waste by-products
3D printers create metal with fewer by-products than traditional metal fabrication techniques. The amount of waste in traditional metal processing is staggering, with 90% of raw metal being discarded on the factory floor. 3D printing creates less waste when making metal. With the advancement of printing materials, “net shape” manufacturing may become a more environmentally friendly processing method.
- Unlimited combinations of materials
Combining different raw materials into a single product is difficult for today’s manufacturing machines, which cannot easily fuse multiple raw materials together during cutting or molding. With the development of multi-material 3D printing technology, we have the ability to fuse different raw materials together. The mixing of previously unmixable raw materials creates new materials that come in a wide variety of shades and have unique properties or functions.
Disadvantages of 3d printing
- Material limitations
Take a close look at some of the objects and equipment around you, and you’ll see the first stumbling block to 3D printing, which is the limitation of the materials needed. Although high-end industrial printing can print plastics, some metals or ceramics, the materials that cannot be printed at present are relatively expensive and scarce.
In addition, current printers are not yet mature enough to support the wide variety of materials we come into contact with in our daily lives.
Researchers have made some progress in multi-material printing, but unless these advances are mature and effective, materials will remain a major obstacle to 3D printing.
- Machine limitations
As we all know, if 3D printing is to become a mainstream technology (as a cost-intensive technology), its requirements for machines are not low, and its complexity can be imagined.
The current 3D printing technology has achieved a certain level in reconstructing the geometry and function of objects. Almost any static shape can be printed, but those moving objects and their clarity are difficult to achieve.
This difficulty may be solvable for manufacturers, but if 3D printing technology wants to enter ordinary families and everyone can print what they want at will, then the limitations of the machine must be solved.
- Concerns about intellectual property rights
Over the past few decades, the music, film and television industries have become increasingly concerned with intellectual property rights. 3D printing technology will undoubtedly be involved in this issue, because many things in reality will be more widely disseminated.
People can copy anything they want, and in unlimited quantities. How to formulate 3D printing laws and regulations to protect intellectual property rights is also one of the problems we face, otherwise there will be flooding with copies.