Aug 11, 2011
Comments Off on The new manufacturing revolution .. 3D Printing?

The new manufacturing revolution .. 3D Printing?

Since the early 1900’s the manufacturing industry has been dominated by mass production and the moving production line. With greater access to information and a wider choice of suppliers now available at the touch of a button, a growing market has emerged for mass customisation of products. Take for example Dell Computers they have successfully created a business model which focuses on the mass customisation of laptops and desktop computers, consumers can log on and “build” a computer that matches their individual needs.

3D printing may unlock the potential of this new and growing market. Not a new concept 3D printing was traditionally constrained to the production of one off items from fused plastic or metal powder, but now very big corporations have begun to sit up take note of its potential.  Once such corporation is EADS, earlier this year the firms aircraft plant near Bristol announced  that they had produced a bike using additive layer technology. The firm also relies on 3D printing to produce complex satellite parts which are lighter and more cost effective than conventionally Рmachined components.

Further evidence of the future potential of Rapid Prototyping¬† can be found at Loughborough University where researchers have developed a 3d printer that uses concrete to “print” large (2m x 2.5m x 5m) components. Should the researchers be able to prove the reliability 3D concrete printing it could dramatically reshape the construction industry.

Concrete Printer

For designers 3D printing puts them at centre of the manufacturing process, ensuring the power of making this is firmly in the hands of the designers. For finance directors and managers the ability to reduce stock and working capital presents significant cost savings while for the consumer 3d printing presents the opportunity to source products that better meet their actual needs.

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