When many people think of 3D printers, they consider them the technology of tomorrow and the future, but there are many ways they’re getting used in our world today. Below, we’ll explain how some industries today utilize 3D printing technology for innovation and efficiency.
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Aerospace was the first industry to broadly welcome and accept the premise and utility of 3D printing technology. You don’t have to be an expert in aeronautics to understand that it’s always better for aeronautic parts to be lighter—which constantly incentivizes the industry to tinker with designs and parts.
Thanks to 3D printing technology, aerospace manufacturers have another tool to experiment with and use to cast new lighter parts without sacrificing structural integrity. In aerospace, lighter parts mean less fuel burned to fly and less expensive flights.
Another industry utilizing the promise of 3D printing technology today is manufacturing—and it’s easy to see why. Industrial manufacturing requires all kinds of tools, jigs, and fixtures to make products efficiently.
With a 3D printer, manufacturers can cut out the go-between and implement improved and expedited processing to get the tools and parts they need faster. Thanks to 3D technology, industrial manufacturers can cut down on downtime and maintenance, saving thousands of dollars per tool by making their process much more efficient.
One of the first uses of 3D printing was creating prototypes and models of futuristic and aerodynamic designs quickly that otherwise would be incredibly difficult to develop. In the automotive industry, which is constantly prototyping and innovating with aerodynamics, 3D technology is quite helpful.
The automotive industry also frequently uses 3D printing for parts—with the technology, manufacturers can quickly create inexpensive and functional plastic parts for vehicles that reduce weight and cost without sacrificing performance. Some manufacturers have even used 3D printers to create replacement parts for cars that are centuries old. There may be a time when there’s no such thing as an extinct part in automobiles, thanks to 3D printers!
Another common use for 3D printers today is in the medical field and in creating prosthetics and implants. Whether a patient needs a prosthetic limb or dental implants, these artificial additions must be as precise and accurate to the patient’s body as possible for practicality.
With 3D printers, custom prostheses and implants can become much more affordable, and patients can get them faster than through previous methods. Another advancement that excites many is the potential of 3D printers to build a replica of a patient’s injured limb or joint, like a damaged knee, as a diagnostic tool for a real-time look at the damage.