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|For years, engineers and designers have been using 3D printers to create rapid prototypes of their products. However, itís only recently that prices and production time have dropped to a level which makes 3D printing viable outside of industry.
Which isnít to say that 3D printing is no longer viable within industry. People from all disciplines, from engineering and medicine to cosmetics and product design, are using 3D printers in innovative and ground-breaking ways. Medical implants and machine parts, jewellery and clothing, made-to-measure footwear and prosthetic limbs, and entire, self contained products - clocks and toys, mechanical devices and more.
And itís not just prototypes any more. As 3D printers increase capabilities and gain the ability to work with more materials, from all kinds of plastics and metals to fabrics and fibres, they are increasingly used to create the final product for sale. More than 20% of industrial 3D output is now final product, and rising.
This method of 3D, additive, manufacturing, is growing exponentially in popularity. It is cheaper and more efficient, with no wastage of materials like offcuts, and much quicker too! And 3D manufacturing can create structures which, by their nature, cannot be created any other way, such as entirely self-contained mechanisms. The finished products require little to no assembly and can be made of materials that are otherwise difficult to work with.
Because the printers are software driven, they can change products, materials or even manufacture methods without any need for significant retooling. This makes them far more versatile and economic than traditional methods.
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Last Update: Friday February 23, 2018