How 3-D Printing Is Changing The Face of Engineering & Product Development
Three-dimensional printing, or additive manufacturing, allows experts and hobbyists alike to design in CAD and, via their 3-D printer, immediately create their prototype or product out of plastic or metal, as simply as printing a page of paper. This new technology is radically changing how we innovate. So let’s take a closer look at how 3-D printing is changing the face of Engineering& Product Development.
Taking Pressure off of the Supply Line
3-D printing provides tissue and implants to the biomedical engineering world, which takes the pressure off resource constrictions. Biomedical engineers have used 3-D printers to manufacture skin and lung tissue to use in medical research, implants and masks for facial reconstruction, even blood vessels. Sounds macabre? The hope is that this powerful technology saves lives by speeding up research and development for new drugs and therapies by reducing the wait for tissue samples, and by reducing the wait for organ transplants and prosthetics. Biomedical engineers can go straight from theory to testing.
3-D printing makes it cost-effective to tailor products to individual customer’s needs and tastes. 3-D printers are being used to create customized “skins” for cars, in a matter of weeks instead of months. They’re creating custom-fit shoes in 12 hours, lowering overhead and store-front stock and vastly increasing profit margins. We can print high-performance prosthetics for athletes. 3-D printers even create prosthetics for dancers that double as musical instruments, playing as the dancer moves. With 3-D printers, engineers’ imagination and innovation gets unprecedented support. If you can design it, you can do it.
So, your customer is in space, and their need is dire. How do you deliver your product quickly? Sound like science fiction? It’s not. In 2014, NASA engineers on earth sent a ratchet wrench design to the International Space Station, where they were able to immediately print it on their 3-D printer. Usually it takes months, or years, to get needed materials to the space station. This happened in the time it takes to send an email. Building on already existent network infrastructure, the 3-D printer revolutionized how we provide resources to the world’s boldest explorers.
The future of engineering is undergoing a revolution. 3-D printing is changing how we innovate, and how we do business. With this technology, even the sky isn’t a limit.