We pointed out that 3D printing is particularly suited to high-value or small-volume products. Also to produce complex geometries or products that require customisation. Likewise, 3D printing is making it possible for “makers” to materialise their projects, without having to depend on third parties or making large investments in tools, thus being able to make a space for themselves in the market when it would otherwise have not been possible.
However, although we know it is a technology with a lot of potential that will undoubtedly see more advances, today we can say that the development of additive manufacturing is not being as fast as we hoped. Why?
In industry in general, and at IKOR in particular, 3D printing is mainly being used for rapid prototyping and tooling, but it has not gone beyond that nor has it replaced any current manufacturing processes.
Every day new materials are presented, the machines are faster and more precise, the post-processing and surface finishes improve, but…
Why doesn’t it take off?
The main reason is that the ecosystem is not prepared to harness this potential: CAD software has not evolved to the same extent and it does not allow or makes it very difficult to create geometries that are made possible by 3D printing. The data integration and processing that scanners can give us is not mature either and – why not admit it – nor are the designers. We engineers have not changed our mentality either, to take advantage of the new capabilities 3D printing gives us.
It’s time to get moving with wide-open eyes and start working. At IKOR we have been doing this for some time to harness the performance of these new technologies. We’ll let you know about our progress…