The use of 3D printing has exploded since the turn of the 21st century and has changed the traditional ways of manufacturing products. With 3D printers, machines that build complex, intricate parts layer-by-layer, limited only by the designer's imagination and the capabilities of the printed materials, seemingly anything can be manufactured. 3D printing, compared to traditional manufacturing methods such as CNC machining or injection molding, requires less skill and expertise and less upfront preparation to make parts. From advanced aerospace components and medical implants to tools and equipment to home decor, the applications of 3D printing are evidently endless. This article will review 10 applications of 3D printing, and briefly discuss different types of 3D printing, the benefits of 3D printing, and related topics.
3D printing has revolutionized how prosthetics are created. As 3D printing processes and techniques are refined, the creation of custom, tailored prosthetics becomes more straightforward and more efficient. Prosthetics can quickly be modeled in CAD (computer-aided design) software and fabricated by 3D printing. If any errors or defects are found in a 3D-printed prosthetic, it can easily be modified in CAD, and reprinted. Consequently, 3D printing of prosthetics can lead to better patient outcomes, comfort, and satisfaction.
2. Replacement Parts
Another application of 3D printing is the ability to fabricate replacement parts easily. This can be enormously beneficial to consumers since it reduces both the need to travel to pick up parts and the long lead times to obtain them. 3D printing enables consumers and businesses to maximize the value of their purchases and spend more time on more important matters.
The 3D printing of implants allows the construction of more specialized products for patients. Patient outcomes are improved when parts with complex geometries can be fabricated quickly. Items like tooth implants, heart valves, knee replacements, and maxillofacial implants are all examples of implants that can be 3D printed. Soon, entire organs could be 3D printed which could dramatically improve outcomes for patients awaiting transplants. Figure 1 below shows a 3D-printed dental implant: