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Industry News | Pros and Cons of 3D Printing

Date: 2019-08-08 Views: 271

3D printing requires materials called filaments that are rolled onto spools. Source: Dremel Shop

3D printing is a great entry point into manufacturing, especially if you’re looking to print small amounts of intricate designs. Here’s what you need to know about 3D printing to help you decide if it works for your ideas.


Pros


Low entry cost. You can spend as much money as you want to get into 3D printing – and if that’s not a lot, you’ve still got plenty of options. A desktop 3D printer and a filament supply will set you back exponentially less than an injection molding setup, and the ongoing proliferation of open-source software and hardware in the community gives you a great support network of others who can help you along the way at little to no cost.


Easy to make changes. Because of its additive nature, you can spot and fix issues with your design while your model is being made. This makes it possible to avoid wasting an entire run of material on objects that all have the same flaw. 3D printers let you pause mid-process and continue in the same spot, which is perfect for spot adjustments that otherwise would make you start all over.


Easy to support complicated designs. 3D printing’s process of adding layers on top of each other makes it perfect for creating intricate infrastructure. The extruder lends a delicate hand to printing details, and the previous layers act as support.


Cons


Slow object output. One drawback to 3D printing’s detail-oriented process is that it severely limits how many objects can be printed at one time. The vast majority of 3D printers will only produce one or two models at a time – even machines with more than one extruder.


Limited build volume. Manufacturing with 3D printers is also limited by the size of their printing area because the extruder arm will always have a maximum reach. Plus, the larger the sections that hang off the edges of the printing area, the more unstable the entire design becomes. Large-scale 3D printing is possible, but even that is relatively small compared to what can be achieved through injection molding.


Rough object surface. 3D printing’s layers are small and close together – but still noticeable. This creates a ridged surface on finished objects no matter how fine the layer detail is set. This presents a problem if you want to manufacture objects that will move against other objects, like machine parts which should be flush. At the very least, you will have to add an extra smoothing step to your process if you want to use 3D printing without its distinctively bumpy finish.


Via: https://all3dp.com/2/3d-printing-vs-injection-molding-know-the-differences/

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