Mulin Tang’s Exploration 1

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

The current and emerging 3D printing applications occurs in medical field. Medical models, prosthetic parts, bones and even organs can be printed. In general, 3D printing takes a digital 3D model via software, which is then printed in layers of materials like plastic, metal, wood, ceramic and assembled one layer at a time. By using 3D printing technology in medical field, it can reduce the cost of personalized medical supplies, such as prosthetic parts, bones and organs, also bring in innovations on medical supplies.

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


First of all, 3D printing technology speed up the manufacturing process. With industrial 3D printers, most objects can be produced in a matter of hours. On the contrary, it might take several days or even weeks via classical manufacturing methods. This leads to massive cost savings and to an on-demand manufacturing model.

Also sometimes, the finished 3D printed product can be up to 60% lighter compared to the machined part but still as sturdy according to the Economist. Significant cost savings can be achieved in this way and less waste also means a lower impact on the environment.


3D printing simply works best in areas where customization is key. However, in the real world, all manufactured parts are standard and do not require customization. In these cases, 3D printing has to compete with scale-driven manufacturing processes and rather efficient logistics operations and a high labor cost for designing may offset the benefits of a lower material cost.

Also, 3D model design brings up copyright issue. It’s so easy to find 3d model files online. But putting it into commercial use would need copyright authorisation.

Source: Augmented Tomorrow  Harvard Business Review

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

1) There may be fewer manufacturing jobs, because 3D printing sometime can ease out the process of assemble. But I do believe 3D printing may actually create more jobs, like job positions that designed to research on new material.

2) As the global manufacturing sector keeps growing, 3D printing as a new technology might be an technology innovation that will boost everything built upon this technology. It’s very possible  It’s just like the “internet” growth back in the ’90s – it was impossible to foretell.



This entry was posted by mulintang.

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