We all are familiar or at least heard about 3D printing. It became very common for us to accept products like smart phone cases or other small items, mostly till this moment made from plastics to be part of our daily life.
Nevertheless, 3D Printing is advancing far more than many of us even imagine. I’m not referring only to the latest new methods of 3D Printing like: Stereolithography (SLA), Digital Light Processing(DLP), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Selective laser melting (SLM), Electronic Beam Melting (EBM), Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM), Fused deposition modeling (FDM), instead I want to review the new trends for converting 3D Printing from prototyping, hobby, research, Makerplace or even home based technology to fully blown manufacturing technology that is steadily started to replace the traditional forms of manufacturing throughout large number of industries today.
The first example is the sport industry manufacturer Adidas, who already started two new factories for fully automated and 3D Printing prediction of the sole of the sole of the shoes, one in Germany and second in the United States, they are intended to produce 500,000 pairs of trainers per year, on cost far lower than any other previously outsourced factory by Adidas in Asia. Moreover, the manufacturer’s estimate that the production turnout would be significantly cut down to less than a week. (The Economist, 2017).[i]
Another great example for manufacturing using 3D Printing is the case with GE (General Electrics) and their new plant for producing using 3D printing technology to print fuel nozzles for the new LEAP jet engines, for which GE invested over $1.5 billion dollars in Auburn, Alabama. The planned production level is by 2020 this factory to produce (print) 35,000 fuel nozzles. (The Economist).[ii]
Furthermore, the expand of 3D Printing from the so called conventional type of prototyping and materials to a new one open new horizons for the application of this tremendous technology. OSU Liquid Metal Printing provides new areas of applications — “3D Printing flexible electronics, like: stretchable sensors, self-healing smartphone screens, currently in development at Oregon State University (OSU). By combining Galinstan, a liquid metal alloy, with nickel, the team successfully created a paste that could be 3D printed into stretchy, electrically conductive components.” (Lai, E., Haria, R., Jackson, B., Petch, M., Industry, 3. P., & Armstrong, K., 2018)[iii]
Further examples of full blown manufacturing using the 3D Printing technologies are; Voodoo Manufacturing, Brooklyn NY:
“One of the core advantages that 3D printing has is that its digital technology. It’s CAD/CAM based, as opposed to being physically based on some sort of mold or tooling that’s required before you make a new part,” said Jonathan Schwartz, cofounder and chief product officer at Voodoo Manufacturing. “The up-front time and cost for making part A versus part B is virtually zero. That is so fundamentally different from how so many other manufacturing technologies work. For us, we’re competing with injection molding, which is the very common way that small plastic parts are made today. You need to make molds before you make your first part. Molds start at $10,000 and go all the way up to $10 million. So clearly, there’s a very high barrier for entry and it also really detracts any flexibility that you might need in your manufacturing process. If you make your mold, that’s the part you’re getting. If you need to change something, too bad.” (Molitch-Hou, M., 2018)[iv]
Another manufacturing giant: “Goodyear” unveil their late creation almost “Sci-Fi” kind a of tire fully 3D Printed and used only live plants to clear air, named: Oxygen Tire. The main idea behind this new product concept is the effort to reduce pollution and help clean the air, by creating a life plant layer on the side walls of the tire helps with absorbing the CO2 and clean the air, and all that was plausible tanks of the latest 3D Printing technology. (Tess, 2018)[v]
In conclusion, we are already in stage of development and use of 3D Printing in almost every part of our life, from technology, construction, health, bio engineering and far beyond, the more important part is that we already started using 3D Printing for full blown manufacturing, the future of mankind, where machines will work nonstop and far faster than any human could, producing all those items we use and live with. We are entering the new era for mankind, and 3D Printing is no longer only for hobbies and prototyping, instead is here to stay as part of our lives.
[iii] Lai, E., Haria, R., Jackson, B., Petch, M., Industry, 3. P., & Armstrong, K. (2018, March 09). OSU liquid metal printing discovery demonstrates the future of electronics. Retrieved March 10, 2018, from