Practical Uses of 3D Printing in Different Industries

3D Printing

3D Printing

3D Printing

From its origin as a rapid prototyping tool, 3D printing transformed into an innovative technology across healthcare, engineering, manufacturing, and many other industries.

One of its strengths is its ability to “print” repeatable object designs — making it a cost-effective way to reduce low-volume manufacturing costs. It doesn’t require new tools, molds, or jigs to produce new items. 3D printers can build an object layer by layer until it achieves a definite physical form. What can 3D printing do?

Top 3D Printing Applications According to Industry

1. Industrial Goods

  • End-use parts
  • Machine components
  • Tooling
  • Spare parts

Industrial goods are the equipment and tools used to produce other goods. When it comes to this industry, 3D printing is useful in creating end-use parts, machine components, tooling, and spare parts among others. You can also use it to repair old equipment, especially if its parts are already obsolete.

This superior industrial tool can accommodate quick design changes, faster lead times, complex geometries, and on-demand production.

2. Architecture

  • Scale/Architectural models

Architecture is about beautiful and functional designs. And there’s no better way to showcase these features other than a 3D printed architectural model.

But why 3D printing?

Traditional scale models take a long time to complete. It’s also more expensive to produce. Artists have to build everything from scratch. They have to lay the foundations, glue each material, and paint the finished structure. Human error is inevitable. Because it’s typically made of cardboard and other types of paper, a single mistake can cause the entire model to crumble.

On the flip side, a 3D printed architectural model is more affordable, easier, and faster to produce. As long as you have a CAD model, all you need to do is to start the printing process. The 3D printer will build the scale model for you. Rather than taking several weeks or months, you can have your architectural model in hours.

To set your expectations, what you can get is the raw structure. You still have to sand, paint and do other finishing touches by hand to make sure your model will look as realistic as possible. But at least you already have the actual build, saving you time from gluing cardboards together.

3. Construction

  • Building prototypes (scale/architectural models)
  • Frames and walls of a building
  • Bridge
  • Construction tools
  • Bricks

Tied to its architectural purpose, 3D printing in construction also makes use of scale models. From building prototypes, high-powered 3D printers can now print construction components or even an entire infrastructure.

Some of the famous examples of 3D-printed infrastructures include the apartment block in China, an office building in the United Arab Emirates, a house in Belgium, and a 3D-printed steel bridge in Amsterdam.

Take note: 3D printing is only capable of printing the frame and walls of a building. You must still manually install other technical elements like the plumbing and electrical systems.

But of course, you don’t have to start with these massive single-print projects. When constructing an entire building is still a far-fetched goal, you can begin with smaller projects. Consider starting with construction tools, bricks, and other easier building parts you can think of.

To guarantee the strength and safety of the structure, it’s critical to use conventional construction materials. This includes concrete, sand, steel, geopolymers, and fiber. In some instances, it can also use biodegradable materials such as mud and soil.

4. Medicine and Healthcare

  • Anatomical models
  • Prosthetics
  • Dental implants
  • Surgical tools
  • Actual human body parts (under development)

3D printing is a life-saving technology. Doctors and healthcare workers take advantage of its features to provide better patient service. For one, surgeons use this to create anatomical models. It helps them plan for their upcoming surgery. They can also use it to explain patients’ conditions to their guardians.

Dentists also do the same. They use 3D-printed dental models to research, test, and design better implants. It allows them to familiarize a patient’s condition. This, in turn, enables them to give faster treatment and excellent patient care.

Another practical use of 3D printing are customized prosthetics which has been a great help to many amputees across the globe. This technology also comes in handy in creating surgical tools.

Soon, the science community may also be successful in producing actual body parts through the process called bioprinting. Though it’s still in its early stages, it holds promising results that may save many lives.

5. Arts, Design, and Entertainment

  • Clothing and footwear
  • Jewelry
  • Visual arts: 3D sculpture, art installations
  • Art replica
  • Art restoration
  • 3D printed musical instruments
  • Movie and theater props
  • Cosplay costumes and costume parts

The arts, design, and entertainment industries also make use of 3D printing technology to produce art and design pieces. In the list above, you can see some of its notable uses including clothing, jewelry, visual arts, and musical instruments.

Another practical application of 3D printing is art restoration and replica. Through 3D scanning and designing, you can bring back to life any antique artwork. This works well if your art collections are fragile. Rather than displaying the original, you can use a 3D-printed replica as a substitute.

Because of its limitless ability to produce various designs, you can also create musical instruments through 3D printing. Not only will these instruments scream cool, but they’re also functional.

3D printing has far more applications than the ones listed here. As this technology continues to advance, you can expect more mind-blowing yet practical uses of 3D printing in different industries.

Do you need help with your 3D printing projects? Let our 3D printing experts help you. At MakerCarl, we use 80+ printers to make sure we can accommodate our clients’ individual and low-volume manufacturing projects.

For more information about our services, feel free to send us a message.