Manufacturing is taking 3D Printing to the next level
The process called “Additive Manufacturing” builds layer by layer and has been seen only as a pure prototyping process until recently. With new materials, better accuracy, various sized platforms and reasonable pricing, it has come to a point where everyone can participate. We are not talking about the hobbyist level, though we probably have to thank them for helping push the technology. They are also, unfortunately, the ones who created a false impression that this is merely a fancy hot glue gun that makes toys.
But what about manufacturing… Yes: what about manufacturing? Is it just prototyping and a lot of hype? The answer is no, and actually, in a way, you might see “Good old American” manufacturing waking up to glory. This is just the beginning and it is super exciting because as consumers are being more demanding, designers and engineers are looking at manufacturing for help. Here is an example: A company is looking for a lot of 100 molded plastic parts. Traditionally you might decide that an aluminum mold would be preferred. The cost of material is not going to set you back too much, and it should hit your doorstep within a few days if you live in United States.
It is getting local… This is really what excites me: you do not need to travel to some showroom or university to see this in action; local machine shops already have this technology. One example is Staub Inc., located less than 20 minutes from me in the outskirts of “blue collar” Buffalo, New York. Mr. Tony Staub started as many manufacturing facilities around the country did: in a garage. And when he outgrew that, he moved into a Super Duper grocery store location. Over the last 20 years, Staub Inc. has built a high precision machine shop using the latest technology within traditional CNC machining. Adding an Additive Department is not about looking far into the future. It is about offering the latest technology to existing and new customers, while finding use for, and exploring, this great resource.
Conclusion… Manufacturing is taking 3D Printing inside the shop, and I guarantee you, my friend, THERE is where 3D Printing will reveal its true potential. I love it!