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The Important Role of 3D Printing in Industry 4.0

3D Printing in Industry 4.0
Above: 3D printing is an important element in Industry 4.0/Image Source: WayKen

With the onset of the 21st Century, the world is witnessing the Industry 4.0 revolution. At the heart of this revolution are smart manufacturing processes and digitization of industry and business-related functions. 3D printing is a key component in the proliferation of the Industry 4.0 processes.

This disruptive technology came with components such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud technology, 3D printing, and additive manufacturing.

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing is a manufacturing process extensively used to describe additive manufacturing. Using a 3D printer, this process involves adding material layer by layers, such as metal or plastic, producing a three-dimensional object.

As one of the tools for rapid prototyping, 3D printing enables manufacturers to produce complex parts with speed and cost-effectiveness. Prototypes designed using 3D technology are used in the research and development stage to fix design problems before mass production.

The 3D printing services provided by leading companies such as WayKen include SLA 3D printing (Stereolithography) and SLS 3D printing (Selective Laser Sintering). 3D printing is applied in aerospace, automotive, medical, dental, and consumer goods.

3D Printing vs. Additive Manufacturing

These two terms are used interchangeably. Additive manufacturing is typically the industrial name for additive technologies, while 3D printing is the popular term used by the public and consumer media. These processes play a significant role in product development by combining multiple layers of material to create custom parts.

Unlike subtractive manufacturing, whereby raw materials get cut and reused again, 3D printing and additive manufacturing are precise.

3D Printing vs. Rapid Prototyping

Rapid prototyping technology gets used to produce and design parts. This process transforms your idea from a CAD design to an actual prototype you can use in the market. Rapid prototyping can be completed either by using 3D printing services, CNC machining, or rapid tooling.

3D printing is one of the tools used in completing rapid prototype processes. The constant evolution in this technology is responsible for producing higher-quality prototypes most cost-effectively.

3D Printing in Industry 4.0
Above: 3D printing is one of the tools used in completing rapid prototype processes/Image Source: WayKen

The Benefits of 3D Printing in Industry 4.0

While 3D printers came into the market in the 80s, they have become crucial in the fourth industrial revolution. The adoption of automated processes and technology in most sectors and industries has contributed to the evolution of 3D technologies or additive manufacturing.

Companies are investing in this technology to improve their quality of products and keep up with the Industry 4.0 revolution. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of 3D printing in Industry 4.0.

1.    Quality Prototypes

The evolution of 3D technologies has been vital in the rapid prototype process. Manufacturers can now rely on advanced software to produce complex three-dimensional objects before getting to the mass production phase.

2.    Printing Speed

Research and Development (R&D) departments often need prototypes for new products. Using 3D printing services speeds up the process and helps designers save up on time and money.

Compared to earlier years, the printers’ speed has improved and can now customize parts in minutes. If there are any changes in design, the engineers can make the corrections faster.

3.    Environmental Impact

Traditional or subtractive manufacturing contributes to a lot of waste materials. However, with many nations now keen on environmental conservation and reducing carbon emissions, additive manufacturing is a better option.

Instead of removing waste, 3D printing combines multiple layers to create parts. With the latest advanced technology, the printers can make a single copy reducing the amount of unsold inventory. Some 3D printers can also use recycled material, significantly reducing the effects on the environment and wastage.

4.    Cost and Pricing

Due to the effectiveness of 3D printers, their cost is relatively high. Their market prices depend on the purpose and material requirements. With the increase in demand for rapid prototyping, the cost of printers is also dropping. For companies involved in rapid prototyping on a large scale, it’s more cost-efficient to invest in high-tech 3D printing for your clients.

5.    Printing Material

With additive manufacturing, you can use different types of materials, from plastic, wood to metal. 3D printers can print a wide array of materials. Therefore, the company can produce quality parts in any material depending on the client’s needs.

6.    Technology Advancement

In the current Industry 4.0, new software and digital updates come up every time. 3D printing services remain critical in manufacturing processes due to their ability to evolve with the latest technology. The importance of 3D printers in the future will continue to increase, especially for rapid prototyping.

3D Printing in Industry 4.0
Above: 3D printed prosthetic hand/Image Source: WayKen

Industrial Applications of 3D Printing

The global demand for customized parts has resulted in the surge for 3D printed parts in several sectors. Here are some of them.

Medical and Dental

3D printing services are beneficial in the medical and dental sectors. From prosthetics, implants to bioprinting, medical teams can get patient-specific devices. During this COVID-19 pandemic, 3D has been used to print ventilator valves, and hand-free door handles for hospitals.

Automotive

This industry is one of the most significant users of additive manufacturing. Designers and engineers use 3D printing to create complex parts and customize some such as seats, spare, and replacement parts. It’s also used to develop prototypes for new models.

Aerospace and Defense

In the aerospace industry, 3D printing services have been used for years now. Apart from making prototypes, they are used to tool, make lightweight components, and create authentic, functional pieces for a plane. This technology is heavily relied on in the manufacturing of rockets.

Summary

As a core component in the Industry 4.0 revolution, 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a manufacturing necessity. Key industries and sectors require high-quality complex parts that manufacturers can produce in the shortest time possible. 3D printing meets these standards as a crucial tool in the rapid prototype process.

With technological advancement, 3D printing is the future of manufacturing. For a wide range of 3D services, contact leading prototype manufacturer WayKen to get a quote today.

About WayKen: Founded in Shenzhen, China, WayKen is a prototyping company and rapid manufacturer specializing in rapid prototyping and low-volume manufacturing of plastic and metal parts, providing a one-stop-shop from prototype to production.

With advanced manufacturing technology and a highly skilled team, WayKen has always maintained an excellent competitive advantage. We custom our manufacturing services to meet your specific product design needs, including CNC machining, 3D printing, vacuum casting, rapid tooling and injection molding.


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