3D printing also referred to as additive manufacturing, has advanced beyond trinkets, toys, prototyping, and rapid tooling. Many companies are moving to this industry for production at scale and more companies are projected to follow suit as the range of printable materials continues to grow. The available basics in this industry are thermoplastic composites, numerous metals, plastics, ceramics, stem cells, photosensitive resins, and glass.
Real-World Applications of 3D Printing
Aviation and Aerospace
The aviation industry makes use of 3D printing in many ways. Aerospace and defense industries use 3D printing for their weapon systems like satellites, rockets, and missiles. Rapid prototyping is a great application of 3D printing in this industry. It is useful mainly in the process of creating dies for the trial of a component before it is taken to the real world. A replica of a component can be made with a polymer that offers all qualities of the finished product to mock how the exact product will work and look-like.
Tools for the modeled product do not necessarily need to be metal. This is important for the pre-production phase when the manufacturer only needs to run small parts for the prototype aircraft. Once the concept has been proven and validated permanent tooling can be used to make the component. Additive manufacturing is useful for complex models but not well suited for mass production. This is essential because each project is time-consuming. Thus, rapid prototyping is well suited for one-off production parts. 3D printing is also useful in consolidating parts into components that are less weighty and stronger than the previously welded parts.
Car-manufacturers have utilized 3D printing for quite a while. In the past, the use of 3D printing was prototyping but currently, that is being phased out. Additive manufacturing is now being used to manufacture the final parts of a car. One of the latest 3D printing technology improvements in the automotive sector is Fused Filament Fabrication. This helps to make different materials that are way near to plastics. Using 3D printers required parts to be created, enabling companies to keep up with on-demand manufacturing and become independent of external suppliers. The automotive industry also uses additive manufacturing to print parts to restore old cars.
Every passing year, 3D works to bring more solutions to the medical field to save more lives. 3D has been used in many areas in the medical field like plastic surgery, neurosurgery, otolaryngology, radiation oncology, vascular surgery, cardiology, oral surgery, and cardiothoracic surgery. It is used for preoperative planning where 3D printing provides the surgeon with the desired patient anatomy which helps to plan the surgical approach. This assists in more understanding of complex anatomy different from each case of operation. 3D printing gives an option to choose before the implantation size of the prosthesis’s components with a high level of accuracy. 3D printing helps to manufacture customized surgical tools. This includes instruments, implants, and custom implants. Customization of surgical tools indirectly means a reduction in cost due to the additive manufacturing technique.
3D printing assists doctors to easily educate patients on their conditions. This is because communicating imaging reports or scans can be hard for healthcare providers. 3D printing comes in to show the model of the anatomy directly making easier the task. 3D printing improves largely in forensic science practice. In a courtroom, a 3D model could be easily used to demonstrate abnormalities that could be hard for the jury to understand via cross-sectional imaging. 3D printing helps to customize synthetic organs. It can help to save lives for patients who need organ transplantation. Bioprinted organs are also useful to replace animal models for analyzing the toxicity of new drugs in the market.
3D Printing and Copyright
The 3D printing field entails trademark and copyright considerations that are not easy for legal practitioners to comprehend. Copyright regulations have not yet quite been affected in this new technology. This makes it quite hard to decide who owns the components since different people are involved at different levels to make the device. This makes every participant in the whole task a legal owner of the machine holding the copyright of the product. The law has not worked around the aspect of copyright to joint authors thus meaning that their copyright is not protected legally. However, designers who find their work being used illegally can issue a DMCA takedown notice but that’s just the far they can go. They may also take legal actions against those who use their products illegally to recoup their profits.
The additive manufacturing field will become more competitive as advancement in technology gradually creeps in every day. But with 3D printing, it is believed that it will continue being at the peak with new inventions and innovations cropping up to help in many manufacturing companies. As greater effort is being put into the 3D printing field to increase speed and reliability, the industry will surely outgrow the current situation with time.