3D printing has been around for a few years now. One of the questions is whether it will ever take off. The industry is growing, turning what used to be experimental items into useful objects. Check this article on 10 fascinating facts about 3D printing from Nokia.
3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from digital models. The digital models help define, execute, control, and manage the 3D manufacturing process, substantially reducing the time and cost of product development and delivery, and enabling the rapid creation of customized products leading to lifelong customer services.
A number of techniques exist, such as stereo lithographic and fused deposition modeling, and others are under development. The market for 3D printing is growing at an estimated 16% a year and is expected to reach about $5 billion in the United States by 2020. The effects of 3D printing are beginning to be felt across a wide variety of industries 3D printing is currently used in jewelry, footwear, industrial design, architecture, engineering and construction, automotive, aerospace, dental and medical industries, education and consumer products and may soon be used to build printed circuit boards. Audi, for example, uses an Object 3D printer (utilizing the photopolymerization technique) to produce parts. A video posted on their YouTube channel – “Print My Audi” – demonstrates the process. The range of plastics that can be used with 3D printers is currently limited.
What impact will 3D printing have on supply chain management and on the postal industry?
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 Additive manufacturing is distinct from traditional machining techniques (subtractive processes) which mostly rely on the removal of material by methods such as cutting and drilling.
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