Bridget’s Exploration 1

What are the current and emerging 3D printing applications in the manufacturing field?

  • As a huge music fan, I was pretty interested to learn about the current trend of 3D printed headphones. These custom earbuds are a bit pricey at about $200, but are totally personalized and promise a unique listening experience.
  • Food being another of my main interests, I was immediately intrigued when reading about food printers in our textbook, and decided to look into this a little more. There have been some large strides in this trend already, such as  gummy and chocolate printers. That being said, 3D food printing is definitely more of an emerging trend that has a long way to go and a possibility to increase sustainability and decrease environmental problems.
gummy printer

3D printing gummies!

What are the advantages and limitations of 3D printing technology?

  • Back to the topic of food, the advantages of 3D printing food technology are widespread. Sustainability is a huge advantage here, as are the environmental benefits if we could rely more on 3D printing and less on meat. There are also the advantages of 3D printing food in space, or as our book outlines, the possibility of more variety and an easier lifestyle for those with health problems and dietary restrictions.
  • In addition to food printing being environmentally friendly, 3D printing technology has many other “green” qualities as well. For example, 3D printing creates less waste and there will be less pollution coming from shipping costs. 3D printers can also take recycled materials and turn them into a printed object–pretty cool.
  • As of right now, there are limitations with regards to size. As we have discussed in class and as this website states, 3D printing technology isn’t big enough to print everything we might want–and if it is, it’s probably too expensive. This hopefully is a limitation that over time will cease to exist as technology gets better and cheaper.
  • Another potential disadvantage of 3D printing is, counterintuitively, the freedom to print anything you may want. With this power comes opportunities for people to create dangerous prints, and there is little possibility for regulation at this point.

Presumably a 3D printed firearm: one potential downside if regulation isn’t possible

What are the larger implications of 3D printing with regards to manufacturing and the economy?

  • Being an Econ major I’m interested to explore the potential economic impacts of 3D printing. According to this article, 3D printing will benefit consumers as they will buy more for less. Furthermore, while many people may think the increase in productivity will lead to a decrease in jobs, the article claims that there will instead be expansion in other industries just as we’ve seen with the growth of technology.
  • Another large implication of 3D printing is that it’s often more cost-efficient and fast in cases of short-run prototyping, mass customization and non-standard parts. This implies that there is much less risk in manufacturing things like these. To me, this means that there will be an incredible increase in opportunities for things like medical research, as there is now less cost if you make an unsuccessful prototype.

We saw a similar graph to this in class but it exemplifies my point that it is much more cost effective to make smaller quantities of a hypothetical unit with a 3D printer than with traditional manufacturing. Thus, people will be more willing to do research on new things if their potential costs are much lower.

This entry was posted by bridgethazeldiana.

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