Since the beginning of the additive manufacturing boom, we have all heard that NASA has sent a 3D printer into space, that skulls have been reconstructed in patients with severe injuries, and that they are now working with human tissue …
But 3D printers are now established in the daily activities of businesses, including Ikor, with far less “flamboyant” applications, but which are nevertheless still very useful and productive from the point of view of design and manufacturing.
- Rapid prototyping is still the key
The creation of instant prototypes remains the main application of 3D printers in many R&D units and technology companies such as IKOR, where we use them to validate different design solutions without having to wait for the final pieces, thereby saving time and improving design quality, allowing us to make a much larger number of iterations to arrive at the optimum design.
- Tooling is the “dark horse” of additive manufacturing
However, this is not the only use we are making of printers on a daily basis, and it is increasingly common to use 3D printers to create different manufacturing tools such as templates, fastenings, guides, gauges, etc.
The ability to replace the tools machined by external companies with parts manufactured by 3D printing in our own facilities means considerable time savings, and allows as many modifications, adaptations and improvements as necessary, with the consequent benefit for the company.
This is perhaps one of the major applications of 3D printing in companies, even though this is not reflected proportionally in the media and specialised publications, perhaps because these applications are less spectacular than those mentioned at the beginning of this article.
However, we should not relax and must instead keep asking ourselves about other applications through which we could exploit the advantages of additive manufacturing in the near future …Any idea?