- Flexible Design
3D printing allows for the planning and print of more complex designs than traditional manufacturing processes. More traditional processes have design restrictions which do not apply with the utilization of 3D printing.
- Rapid Prototyping
3D printing can manufacture parts within hours, which accelerates the prototyping process. This enables for every stage to finish faster. In comparison to machining prototypes, 3D printing is inexpensive and quicker at creating parts because the parts are often finished in hours, allowing each design modification to be completed at a way more efficient rate.
- Print on Demand
Print on demand is another advantage because it doesn’t need tons of space to stock inventory, unlike traditional manufacturing processes. This protects space and costs as there's no got to print in bulk unless required.
The 3D design files are all stored during a virtual library as they're printed employing a 3D model as either a CAD or STL file, this suggests they will be located and printed when needed. Edits to designs are often made at very low costs by editing individual files without wastage of out of date inventory and investing in tools.
- Strong lightweight parts
The main 3D printing material used is plastic, although some metals also can be used for 3D printing. However, plastics offer advantages as they're lighter than their metal equivalents. This is often particularly important in industries like automotive and aerospace where light-weighting is a problem and may deliver greater fuel efficiency.
Also, parts are often created from tailored materials to supply specific properties like heat resistance, higher strength or water repellency.
- Fast Design and Production
Depending on a part’s design and complexity, 3D printing can print objects within hours, which is far faster than moulded or machined parts. It's not only the manufacture of the part which will offer time savings through 3D printing but also the planning process is often very quick by creating STL or CAD files able to be printed.
- Minimizing Waste
The production of parts only requires the materials needed for the part itself, with little or no wastage as compared to alternative methods which are cut from large chunks of non-recyclable materials. Not only does the method save on resources but it also reduces the value of the materials getting used.
- Pocket Friendly
As a one step manufacturing process, 3D printing saves time and thus costs related to using different machines for manufacture. 3D printers also can be found out and left to urge on with the work, meaning that there's no need for operators to be present the whole time.
As mentioned above, this manufacturing process also can reduce costs on materials because it only uses the quantity of fabric required for the part itself, with little or no wastage. While 3D printing equipment is often expensive to shop for, you'll even avoid this cost by outsourcing your project to a 3D printing services company.
- Simple Access
3D printers are getting more and more accessible with more local service providers offering outsourcing services for manufacturing work. This protects time and doesn’t require expensive transport costs compared to more traditional manufacturing processes produced abroad in countries like China.
- Environmentally Friendly
As this technology reduces the quantity of fabric wastage used this process is inherently environmentally friendly. However, the environmental benefits are extended once you consider factors like improved fuel efficiency from using lightweight 3D printed parts.
3D printing is getting used within the medical sector to assist save lives by printing organs for the physical body like livers, kidneys and hearts. Further advances and uses are being developed within the healthcare sector providing a number of the most important advances from using the technology.
- Limited Materials
While 3D Printing can create items during a selection of plastics and metals available, selection of raw materials isn't exhaustive. This is often thanked well to the very fact that not all metals or plastics can be temperature controlled enough to permit 3D printing. Additionally, many of those printable materials can't be recycled and really few are food safe.
- Restricted Build Size
3D printers currently have small print chambers which restrict the dimensions of parts which will be printed. Anything bigger will have to be printed in separate parts and joined together after production. This will increase costs and time for larger parts thanks to the printer wanting to print more parts before manual labor is employed to hitch the parts together.
- Post Processing
Although large parts require post-processing, as mentioned above, most 3D printed parts need some sort of cleaning up to get rid of support material from the build and to smooth the surface to realize the specified finish. Post processing methods used include water jetting, sanding, a chemical soak and rinse, air or heat drying, assembly and rest. The quantity of post processing required depends on factors including the dimensions of the part being produced, the intended application and therefore the sort of 3D printing technology used for production. So, while 3D printing allows for the fast production of parts, the speed of manufacture is often slowed by post processing.
- Large Volumes
3D printing may be a static cost unlike more conventional techniques like injection moulding, where large volumes could also be more cost effective to supply. While the initial investment for 3D printing could also be less than other manufacturing methods, once scaled up to supply large volumes for production, the value per unit doesn't reduce because it would with injection moulding.
- Part Structure
With 3D printing (also referred to as Additive Manufacturing) parts are produced layer-by-layer. Although these layers adhere together it also means they will delaminate under certain stresses or orientations. In certain cases, it's going to be better to use injection moulding because it creates homogenous parts which will not separate and break.
- Reduction in Manufacturing Jobs
Another of the disadvantages of 3D technology is the potential reduction in human labour, since most of the assembly is automated and done by printers. However, many Third World countries believe low skill jobs to stay their economies running, and this technology could put these manufacturing jobs in danger by ablating the necessity for production abroad.
- Design Inaccuracies
Few of the other potential problems with 3D printing is associated with the sort of machine or process used. Some printers have lower tolerances, meaning that final parts may differ from the first design. This will be fixed in post-processing, but it must be considered that this may further increase the time and price of production.
- Copyright Issues
As 3D printing is becoming more popular and accessible there's a greater possibility for people to make fake and counterfeit products and it'll almost be impossible to inform the difference. This has evident issues around copyright also as for internal control