Will 3D printing take over manufacturing?

There has been much excitement about the potential for 3D printing to completely transform the manufacturing industry as it continues to develop. But will 3D printing eventually replace more conventional production techniques, or is it just a fad? Being an expert in the field of 3D printing for building purposes, I think it’s important to examine the pros and cons of this technology to get a clearer picture of its potential in industry.

Benefiting from 3D printing means you can get complex parts and structures made on demand, which is a huge plus. This can be especially helpful for low-volume production runs or one-of-a-kind items, for which conventional manufacturing methods might not be cost-effective. Since 3D printing only uses the exact amount of material required to produce a part or structure, it has the potential to reduce waste and improve sustainability.

However, 3D printing has its limitations that make it unlikely to completely replace traditional manufacturing methods. Slower production times are one drawback of 3D printing compared to more conventional methods like injection molding and computer numerical control (CNC) machining. Further restrictions are imposed by the incompatibility of some materials with the 3D printing process.

To sum up, 3D printing may greatly alter the manufacturing and construction industries, but it won’t likely displace more established practices anytime soon. For low-volume production runs or the development of unique, complex components and structures, additive manufacturing is more likely to be used in tandem with more conventional techniques.

Is 3D printing the industry’s next big thing, then? As much as it could revolutionize manufacturing as we know it, it’s not a panacea. You should weigh the pros and cons of this technology and figure out how to best apply it to your situation before committing to it.

About the Author: Reynaldo Santana

Author, Ph.D. Candidate in 3D Printing Construction, Ted Talk Speaker, 3D Printing Consultant & Mastermind Group Creator.


“3D Printing in Manufacturing: Benefits, Limitations and Future Developments” (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2351978918304447)

“3D Printing in Manufacturing: A Review of Current Applications” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5878185/

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