in Features

Celebrating 3D Printing Day: looking to the future

Posted 3 December 2015 · Add Comment

On 3D Printing Day, Jonathan Wilkins, Head of Marketing at European Automation, discusses how 3D printing gained its own day and why the manufacturing industry should get on board with the celebrations.

A recent report by PwC suggests that two thirds of the top 100 manufacturers are already using 3D printing. Of these, 28.9% are experimenting to determine how they can integrate 3D printing into their production processes.

Until recently, 3D printing was predominantly used for rapid prototyping, but the PwC report suggests that significant change is coming. 3D printing is also making its mark in consumer technology, thanks to desktop 3D printers such as Makerbot and Cubify.


The increasingly important role of 3D printing has meant the technology now has a designated day in industry calendars - December 3. Witty, right?

The first 3D Printing Day was celebrated in 2013, when multinational conglomerate, General Electric (GE) designed and printed custom gifts for its Twitter followers. From a list, GE's followers picked the prototype they wanted to receive and tweeted the company their wish, using the hashtag #3DPrintMyGift. Celebrities, including Craig Breslow and companies such as Cooper-Hewitt and Spotify, designed the prototypes. The gifts were printed and shipped free of charge, in time for Christmas.
 
After the initial campaign, 3D printing community Thingiverse wanted to make the day an annual celebration. This open source website makes 3D printing possible for many enthusiasts, allowing users to share their STL files. People can then use these to create their own printouts. In fact, the industry is so young; individuals and companies can easily improve and modify existing technologies, which creates a sense of collaboration and positive development.
 
This year, Thingiverse is encouraging 3D printing enthusiasts to share their designs on 3 December, to improve the resources available to the community. Alternatively, users could spend the day thinking of quirky ways to introduce the technology to those closest to them, spreading the word about everything 3D printing has achieved so far. The day is also an opportunity to learn more about the 3D printing.
 
Here at European Automation, we believe 3D printing day should be celebrated by consumers and industry alike, because of a disruptive technology that has already proven its worth in many industries including aerospace, automotive and manufacturing, clearly has a big role to play in the future of design and manufacturing.  


 
Conventional manufacturing techniques allow companies to commit to creating moulds or costly tooling processes before making its first products. These traditional tools can be costly, but they balance out in the long run, if the mould is used to create millions of parts. However, if the manufacturer only needs 500, it may not be worth it. In fact 3D printing is often a less costly and more flexible production method, especially if organisations use a 3D printing hub where they can rent machines and materials.
 
Manufacturers are using 3D printing increasingly in mass customisation. Until recently, if a patient needed a knee replacement, a surgeon would select a pre-made design that most resembled the patient's knee from a limited collection. Now, a 3D scanner is used to get a very accurate image of the knee and a 3D printer can easily create a perfect replica prior to surgery. Orthodontic braces manufacturer, Invisalign, for example has built a multi-million pound business producing teeth alignment devices using 3D printing to customise each set of clear braces.
 
Last, but not least, it’s possible that at some point in the future, developments in 3D printing may lead to the technology becoming a part of a manufacturer’s obsolescence strategy. As costs decrease, companies could start using 3D printing as a method of replicating obsolete parts. This is still a long way to go though, so we’re not worried just yet.

 

* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

AOA stresses need for new EU air traffic rights agreements

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) has stressed that the importance of aviation as the main mode of transport for people travelling between the UK and the EU means that it is imperative that new agreements on air traffic rights are

Locken launching Mechatronic range

Provider of cable-free access control solutions, Locken, will - following its recent joint venture with ISEO Group - launch a new range of highly interactive security systems called Mechatronic.

SatelLife competition winners announced

Nine young space entrepreneurs have won a share of £50K for innovative ideas on how to use satellite data to improve life on Earth.

Richard Peckham elected as Chair of UKspace

Richard Peckham, UK Strategy & Business Development Director Airbus Defence and Space Ltd, has assumed the role of Chair UKspace following the recent departure of Patrick Wood from Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL).

Qatar-UK Business and Investment Forum addresses aviation links

Qatar Airways played a key role in the Qatar-UK Business and Investment Forum taking place in both London and Birmingham this week under the patronage of Qatar's Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah

Zaun accredits installers to roll out ArmaWeave

High security perimeter systems manufacturer Zaun Limited is bolstering the ranks of approved installers for its unique super-intruder-resistant fencing.Zaun accredits installers to roll out ArmaWeave

Getac SK2703270617
See us at
DSEI LB0911150917SMI MSS BT0601270417SEKOSMI12DE BT203280917SMI FHT BT0601190517SMI BT1705Future Armoured Vehicles Situational Awareness BT