What are the uses of 3D printing?

Thought 3D printing had limited real-life applications? Think again.

what are the uses of 3d printing

There are already a significant number of uses for 3D printing that many industries and consumers alike will benefit from, although it may take a while for these effects to fully trickle down to the commercial sector, as a lot of them are still in the initial developmental stages.

On the other hand, some industries are well underway with their journey to discovering how 3D printing can be used. Both old and new, here are some of the key uses for 3D printing.

uses of 3d printing

Car Manufacturing

3d printing car parts

We’ll get into this in more detail later on, but 3D printing is able to speed up the process of production which makes it ideal for manufacturing car parts.

As well as speeding up mass production, the ability to prototype highly detailed, specific parts and models means 3D printing can also play a more precise role in car manufacturing.

It’s even been used in Formula One motor racing to create parts for test models to see how well they perform under a variety of different conditions, giving racers an advantage as they can tweak their vehicles so that every part is optimized for a successful performance.

Aviation

Aviation manufacturing is an industry that has already benefited greatly from the use of 3D printing technology, particularly for manufacturing specific aircraft parts and components.

This will make it much easier to repair or create custom aircraft parts which could save companies both time and money in terms of getting their aircraft back into the air.

The ability to produce custom-designed, complex components therefore has the potential to revolutionize aviation, and the industry plans to make full use of additive manufacturing.

Plus, human error is practically eliminated, an obvious bonus for the aviation industry.

In Construction

The precise accuracy of 3D printing is desirable in the construction industry as it can help reduce the risk of human error, avoiding potentially disastrous consequences.

There is ongoing development happening with concrete 3D printing, in the hopes that this will aid construction by printing concrete structural elements for buildings and bridges.

However, it’s worth noting that this use of 3D printing is still very early days, and it will be years before these technologies are perfected enough to become widely used in the commercial construction industry.

Clothing

3d printed clothing

Whilst it’s not necessarily here just yet, we predict a not-too-distant future where the list of 3D printing materials expands enough for this technology to be incorporated in fashion design and the creation of smart clothing, opening up a host of new possibilities.

This could have huge effects on fabrics and textiles, presenting the opportunity to develop new materials with useful properties for a range of purposes. For example, it could be used to create textiles that are capable of withstanding bullets and fire or retaining heat well.

Eyewear

Anything to do with people needs to take into account the immense number of differences there can be from one person to another. This is especially true of eyewear, which is an industry that can utilize 3D printing technology and its endless customization possibilities.

There are even some companies in the industry that are allowing customers to design their own glasses using this technology, which works to increase customer satisfaction and encourage repeat custom.

Jewelry

The most ornate pieces of jewelry are made up of intricate details that can be tricky to create, but 3D printing is set to transform this process through printing pieces that were once only possible to achieve through painstakingly handcrafting them.

The design options that will be available with 3D printing are endless, and you will be able to mock-up prototypes of your design quickly and easily to check for any flaws or issues. You will also be able to create tools specifically designed to help you with making your jewelry.

In Healthcare

3D printing is already proving its worth in the healthcare industry, with the outbreak of Covid-19 prompting companies like Ricoh 3D to produce 40,000 face shields for PPE.

That’s not where the potential for 3D printing to help healthcare stops, however, as it can also be used in the pre-planning stages of complicated surgical procedures to help surgeons, which was first discovered by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

This could have huge benefits for patients and surgeons alike, making certain treatments or procedures much easier and potentially saving many lives.

In The Dental Industry

dental 3d printing

The medical and dental industries were among the first to utilize 3D printing technology, and there is a great scope for its capabilities in this sector.

It has the ability to help with the creation of bespoke, tailor-made items such as dental crowns, which can be designed to suit your mouth perfectly for a custom fit.

In the future, there is even the possibility for this technology to develop to the point where it can help both dental surgeons and patients, but this is a long way off being beneficial to the commercial sector.

In Bio-Printing

Remember how we said the concept of 3D printing seems like something from a science fiction movie? Well, stick with us, because so does this.

In a dream come true for the majority of scientists, 3D printing allows for the exact replication of organs and has huge potential in regenerative medicine. It’s still very much in its infancy, but there is much industry excitement around the fact that there is the potential to produce organic tissue that is eligible for transplant in medical procedures.

In The Food Industry

Additive manufacturing also has a place in the food industry, as it could change the way we currently cook and consume food.

The thought of a meal that’s been pushed out through a nozzle to be constructed on your plate may not be appealing, but you might be surprised to learn that some of your favorite foods are already produced using extrusion methods, including foods like pasta, sausages, and breadsticks.

Although it’s still early on its development, this could be one of the first forms of 3D printing that reaches the consumer market.

In Education

3d printing in education

One of the key elements of engaging students with their education is to make their learning exciting, and what could be more so than the ability to theoretically print anything you want?

Using 3D printing for educational purposes can complement the current curriculum in a number of ways, helping both students and teachers with their work. It’s also a great way to give kids access to new technology and knowledge they may not otherwise have.