3D Printing and Manufacturing: The Future or The Present?

3D printing has been around for more than three decades, but it’s just now starting to make its way into mainstream manufacturing. Well, it’s been used in manufacturing for years, but not in the way that many people expected it to be used.

While 3D printing is commonly used by manufacturers for research and development, it hasn’t been heavily used in creating the end product. However people have been predicting that 3D printing will not only become a key part in the manufacturing process, but that it will also revamp the entire industry. Rather than be reserved for prototypes and “big picture” applications, 3D printing will be used in making the actual goods that reach the consumers. These predictions are slowly but surely coming true.

An increasing number of  manufacturers are implementing 3D printing in their production processes, although it is typically in conjunction with traditional practices, rather than instead of traditional manufacturing processes.

This means that a manufacturer might still make a majority of their products using traditional methods, but will implement additive manufacturing techniques to produce custom items, or make small changes to existing items. Basically, most manufacturers who are making use of 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, are really just using it for additive applications rather than primary production.

While there may not be any manufacturers out there capable of relying solely on 3D printing right now, there are companies who are moving in that direction. British company Renishaw now has a compliance certificate from TÜV SÜD for their metal 3D printing machine.

The machine is called the AM250 laser melting machine. The purpose of the machine is to bring 3D printing to mainstream manufacturing. The certificate allows for the AM250 to be used by manufacturers without any additional tests or inspections. In other words, it can be used like any other piece of industrial machinery. This could prove to be a huge step towards 3D printing in manufacturing.