3D Printing in Business
This paper explores the advantages and disadvantages of 3D printing and future implementation into the realm of business. The future of 3D printing has yet to be known and is being implemented into markets all over the world. I feel that the business industry can capitalize upon this advancement in technology and use it to its full ability. This paper will go into detail on how it’s being implemented into other industries and how it will be vital to the future of business as well. 3D printing, as of now, has many pros and cons in its infant stage. As the technology advances, the disadvantages of utilizing 3D printing will diminish and its full capability will be known. The possibilities of 3D printing are limitless, and its true potential is untapped at this moment. I hope this paper can be an awakening for many companies in the business industry and allow them to be the forefront of this revolution.
Keywords: 3D-Printing, additive manufacturing, business, industry, future, advancement
The Future of 3D Printing in Business
3D printing has revolutionized the way we make things, and the technology is evolving fast. The advancements in 3D printing have made it possible to create things that we have never been able to before, such as tiny batteries and incredibly effective water filters. Someday, we may even be able to use that technology to colonize other planets.
Additive Manufacturing Review
Sometimes known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing is done by programming a 3D printer with a design, and the printer will build to the exact dimensions of its blueprints. This is typically done by stacking layers material on top of each other.
One problem with 3D printing is that it’s hard to print on a small scale. When you’re working with one hundredths of a millimeter, the room for error is microscopic; though this technology is becoming more precise with time. In 2013, a team of researchers from Wyss Institute at Harvard University managed to print extra efficient microbatteries the size of a grain of sand. To do so, the team created an ink made of lithium-ion nanoparticles. It ended up being just as efficient as batteries found at the store.
Something as essential to life as water can even be affected by the advancements in 3D printing. In 2014, a company in Singapore developed a 3D printed membrane using an ink made of titanium dioxide. When exposed to ultra-violate light, like the sun, the titanium dioxide membrane can kill microbes. The membrane can also break down organic compounds so that they won’t stick, clogging the membrane.
Scientists are developing all kinds of new ideas for 3D printing here on Earth, but it’s also helping us explore space. The International Space Station currently comes equipped with a 3D printer on board. In 2014, Astronauts used it to manufacture objects in space for the first time ever. Typically, objects are printed out of a specific type of plastic called resin. NASA wanted to test whether things, like tools, could be printed in space. If so, crew members could print what ever they needed on the fly while in voyages. Researchers weren’t exactly sure if the zero pressure of space would affect the strength of resin. While on board the space station, 20 tools and parts were printed and shipped back to earth for testing. Results showed that the ordinary resin used by most printers was just as durable as on earth, showing that 3D printing would become a very critical part of the future. Aside from printing parts and tools for space personnel on stations and shuttles, this technology could be the answer to colonizing the moon. The first permanent structure on the moon will most likely be a giant 3D printed building made by humongous 3D printers using harvested lunar regolith, otherwise known as moon rocks.
Applications for 3D Printing in Current Work Places
Typical business work places could utilize the implementation of 3D printing into the office spaces. Greenhalgh (2016) reported that new design technologies do impact design strategies and can allow for rapid revisions upon new archetypes . This would allow for many offices’ creativity to flourish. With little repercussion for remaking complex printed objects, many revision cycles can be done within a team.
3D Printing has become one of the most cost-effective ways to produce sturdy, long lasting objects. That would allow many businessmen limitless possibilities for prototyping inventions, models, and other visual representations. Without expensing many resources, a company can create beta versions of prototypes rapidly and present it to peers, boards, and conferences. 3D printing will become crucial to the evolution of business, but today’s technology can turn away many companies for the time being. While ten years from now, many of the issues associated with 3D printing will be a thing of the past, additive manufacturing still has its flaws. “In the next decades, this technology has been substantially improved and has evolved into a useful tool for researchers, manufacturers, designers, engineers and scientists .”
There are several cost factors that determine whether a firm invests their time and money into additive manufacturing. Redwood states in his article, The Advantages of 3D Printing, that there are three main costs when breaking down the cost of 3D printing: machine operation costs, material cost, and labor costs .
Machine Operation Costs.
Typically, 3D printers use a comparable amount of power to a standard laptop. The cost of a machine strongly depends on the type of objects that a user is attempting to produce. Obviously, more complex and geometric objects require a more advanced printer. While this is a dilemma now, as the technology advances, 3D printers will become cheaper and the technology will become more assessible by all levels of printers.
The cost of ink will be the most varying expense from firm to firm. As mentioned before, there are infinite possibilities on what 3D printers can use as ink. Most commonly, the ink is made of different types of plastic. Manufacturing has utilized plastic to reserve natural resources and its relatively cheap production cost. Material cost contribute to the highest expense associated with 3D printing. The biggest advantage to additive manufacturing is that there is very little waste product at the completion of a print due to printers’ pin-point accuracy.
This is where 3D printing pulls away from other forms of manufacturing. There is little to no labor costs associated with 3D printing. The hours that go into constructing things like dioramas, 3D models, and prototypes within the business industry can be completely revolutionized by this technology. After programming the 3D printer with your blueprints, the user can walk away while the printer does the remainder of the work. The learning curve may cause issues for some workplaces. This is a new technology that will require everyone to learn the programming skills needed to operate a 3D printer. If not, the firm must hire a designated specialist, costing the company another yearly salary.
Conclusions and Future Study
3D printing in small volumes is extremely competitive to traditional manufacturing; even in the technology’s infancy. That makes it a perfect product for business to capitalize upon. While it’ll be many years before 3D printing takes over traditional manufacturing of mass production, soon, this technology can be utilized in the everyday office space. Wohlers (2015) reported that the sales of 3D printers under $5,000 in 2015 increased 4,220 times than what was sold in 2007 . In an ever-evolving market, businesses are in search of the ‘next big thing’ to put them above the competition. 3D printing is the edge that will increase efficiency and allow for all the creativity that couldn’t have been expressed before by employees with traditional forms of manufacturing.