3D printing, where you turn a computer-based model into a physical object by ‘printing’ it layer by layer, is becoming increasingly popular, for product designers, design engineers, manufacturers, hobbyists and more.
3D printing enables us to create complex shapes and structures that traditional machines typically struggle with. It allows us to combine raw materials in new ways, and because there’s no need for large upfront tooling investment, it can make one-off and small-scale production runs commercially viable. Add to this its green credentials – there’s less waste than with traditional manufacturing – and it’s clear why there’s so much buzz around 3D printing.
One area where it’s attracting particular interest is with design engineers, for whom the possibility of cheap and rapid prototyping is now a reality. 3D-printed prototyping has the power to transform and accelerate their working processes, better understand their designs and produce superior end products. Previously, the investment needed to set up and tune manufacturing machinery would have made this type of frequent prototyping prohibitively expensive for many.