Jarrett Dillenburger’s Exploration 1
What are the current and emerging 3D printing application in the manufacturing field?
3D Circuit Board Printing
While the 3D printing medium is often thought to be only plastics, there are plenty of other printing mediums. One such medium is circuit boards. Yes, for electronics! Recently, the Israeli company Nano Dimension, introduced its newest 3D Printing device, the Dragonfly 2020 3D. This amazing device is a prime example of the wide range of materials that can be created using 3D printing technologies. The Dragonfly uses an inkjet deposition board in order to print multi-layer circuit boards. The multitude of accessories that have been developed for the
device allow for an even more advanced PCB printing process. Currently, PBC printing is mostly limited to 3D professionals and consumer electronics specialist, but will hopeful become more available to general consumers. The hope is that devices like this will help lower overall cost of printing specific PBCs.
3D Printing for Scientific Equipment
Often in scientific research. the price tag for discovery can be quite high. A significant portion of this price can be attributed to purchasing and replacing scientific equipment. But, according to Dr. Joshua M. Pearce, an associate professor at the Michigan Technological University in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering and the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, it doesn’t need to be! Over the past several years, Dr. Pearce, who is a frequent contributor to Thingiverse, has been working with his research team to develop a more cost-effective way to manufacture scientific equipment like the micropipette seen in Figure 2. In order to meet this goal, Dr. Peace and his research team have designed an open-source 3D printer similar to the Mendel RepRap shown in Figure 1. These open-source 3D printer can be built by other research labs using common parts from a hardware store, open-source electronics and parts it can manufacture on its own (shown in red, white and blue in figure 1). Recently published by Elsevier, Dr. Pearce’s new book, Open-Source Lab: How to Build Your Own Hardware and Reduce Research Cost, helps to explain this project and its economic viability in more detail.
What are the advantages and limitation of 3D printing technology?
Many advantages can be found with regards to 3D printing. One of the most promising advantages is the innovation that 3D printing encourages. The ability to quickly design and manufacture prototype models, allows for companies and individual to innovate at significantly reduced costs and with much more efficiency.
Another advantage to 3D printing is that specific parts/items can be designed and build on demand. In situation such as working on the ISS or in remote areas, the ability to quickly print a needed tool can be the difference between life and death.
3D printing is not advantageous for large scale manufacturing. Often printing even the simplest of parts can take considerable amounts of time. For example, my first 3D printed object, a small boat, took about an hour to print at the fastest settings. Most factories could produce this same design easily a 100 time over in the same about of time.
For most consumer 3D printers, such as the Lulzbot that we use for our class, it is not able to print larger sized objects. If you wish to build some time of large object, the project would require the object to be divided into sections, printed separately, and then finally assembled together. This process would be very time intensive.
What are the large implications of 3D printing with regards to manufacturing and the economy?
As has been mentioned previously, there are many implication for 3D printing. In terms of the economy and manufacturing, 3D printing is providing both large companies and small startups a way to design and manufacture prototypes which in turn help promote innovation and spurs the efficiency of research and development.
Another implication for 3D printing is that the consumer starts to have more control over what they want. The ability to design and print specific parts allow for individuals to obtain personalized products that would otherwise be not be economically sustainable otherwise at the costs similar to that of 3D printing. Some examples of this included 3D printing body parts/organs, braces/casts that are designed for the specific break/body shape, and glasses frames.