By Anna Kucirkova
Special to Leeham News
Jan. 22, 2019, © Leeham News: A lot of changes have taken place in the manufacturing industry over the years.
Just a few decades ago, the concept of manufacturing products from your home seemed impossible. If you wanted a product, then you had to purchase it or request a company to produce it for you.
Now you can purchase a machine, set it in your house and produce what you desire with the help of a computer. What used to cost manufacturing firms huge capital can now be built at a lower price in your home.
So what changed? This article will explore some notable changes that have shaped the manufacturing industry to where it is today.
In the past, when we wanted to produce something, we had to take a material and remove what we didn’t require. That was a concept of subtractive manufacturing.
But additive manufacturing is opposite of subtractive manufacturing. You begin with zero and add in what you need. Additive manufacturing is also referred to as 3D printing, where you keep on adding layers of material until the product is completed. The materials used can be metal, plastic or concrete.
To 3D print, you require a computer and CAD software to help you read the sketch design and add on layers of material until the product is complete. While 3D printing is the most famous type of additive manufacturing, it includes technologies such as rapid prototyping, layered manufacturing, additive fabricating, and digital manufacturing.
The potential applications of 3D printing are endless. It began as a way of developing prototypes for companies. They could brainstorm a product, draw a sketch and develop a sample within a short time. Additive manufacturing is a life-changing technology that we should all embrace.
This is the most popular process. With this process, your material is put in a spool, which is pushed through a hot nozzle mounted in a mobile arm. The nozzle moves vertically and horizontally depositing your material layer upon layer.
Direct energy deposition is almost the same as material extrusion, but it gives room for more materials to be included. Plastics normally undergo material extrusion process. Polymers, metals, and ceramics are common with direct energy process.
This process makes use of the same concept as that of an inkjet printer. Its head moves on y, z, and x-axes to produce a 3D product. The layers harden once they start cooling or are cured by UV light.
There are several benefits that people can derive from additive manufacturing from saving time to producing complex designs that could not be achieved using conventional manufacturing methods. Here are some of the advantages of 3D printing:
The entire production process saves a lot of time. You can head straight to your CAD file without requiring special machines or intermediaries. You can even make some tweaks as the process is going on without seeking approval from anyone.
Additive manufacturing allows engineers to build complex designs than they could with conventional manufacturing processes. Objects that previously required welding or assembly can now be produced once using this process.
Anna Kucirkova is a freelance writer. She speaks three languages. Her work has appeared in a variety of international publications.