What are the pros and cons of 3D printing? (2023)

Back to the frequently asked questions How long does 3D printing take? Can metal be used in 3D printing? (All you need to know) What are the pros and cons of 3D printing?

3d printing, also known asadditive manufacturing, is becoming increasingly popular among manufacturers. Demand is growing due to some of therevolutionary benefitsthat you can provide. Since almost every technology has its ownDisadvantagesthey require consideration.

This page is intended to support the selection process. We will cover all the pros and cons of 3D printing.


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What are the advantages of 3D printing?

This production process offers a number of advantages over conventional manufacturing processes. These advantages include those relating to design, time and cost, among others.

1. Flexibles Design

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3D printing can create and print more complex designs than traditional manufacturing methods. More traditional processes have design limitations that the use of 3D printing removes.

2. Rapid-Prototyping

3D printing can produce parts in hours and speeds updevelop prototypeProcess. This allows each step to be completed faster. Compared to prototyping, 3D printing is less expensive and faster in creating parts as the part can be completed in hours, allowing any design change to be completed much more efficiently.

3. Print if necessary

On-demand printing is another benefit, as you don't need a lot of storage space, unlike traditional manufacturing processes. This saves space and costs as no bulk printing is required.

All 3D design files are stored in a virtual library while they are printed with a 3D model as a CAD or STL file so they can be found and printed when needed. Design edits can be done at very low cost by editing individual files without wasting outdated inventory and investing in tools.

4. Strong and light parts

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The main 3D printing material used is plastic, although some metals can also be used for 3D printing. However, plastics offer the advantage of being lighter than their metal counterparts. This is particularly important in sectors such as automotive and aerospace where light weight is an issue and can offer greater fuel efficiency.

Additionally, parts can be made from custom materials to provide specific properties such as heat resistance, increased strength, or water repellency.

5. Fast design and production

Depending on the design and complexity of a part, 3D printing can print objects in a matter of hours, much faster than molded or machined parts. Not only can part manufacturing be time-saving through 3D printing, but the design process can also be done very quickly by creating print-ready STL or CAD files.

6. Minimize waste

Part production requires only the materials needed for the part itself, with little or no waste compared to alternative methods that cut large chunks of non-recyclable materials. The process not only conserves resources, but also reduces material costs.

7. Rentable

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As a one-step manufacturing process, 3D printing saves time and therefore costs associated with using different machines for manufacturing. 3D printers can also be set up and left to work, eliminating the need for operators to be on site all the time. As mentioned above, this manufacturing process can also reduce material costs by using only the amount of material needed for the part itself with little or no waste. While purchasing 3D printing equipment can be expensive, you can even avoid these costs by outsourcing your design to a 3D printing service company.

8. Easy access

3D printers are becoming more affordable as more local service providers offer outsourcing services for manufacturing jobs. This saves time and does not require high transportation costs compared to more traditional manufacturing processes made overseas in countries like China.

9. Eco-friendly

Because this technology reduces the amount of waste material used, this process is inherently eco-friendly. However, the environmental benefits are magnified when considering factors such as increased fuel efficiency through the use of lightweight 3D printed parts.

10. Advanced medical care

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3D printing is used in the medical field to save lives by printing organs for the human body such as the liver, kidneys and heart. Further advances and applications are being developed in the healthcare sector, offering some of the greatest advances in the use of technology.

What are the disadvantages of 3D printing?

As with almost every other process, there is also hereDisadvantages of 3D printing technologyThis should be taken into account before opting for this procedure.

1. Limited Materials

While 3D printing can create objects from a variety of plastics and metals, the range of raw materials available is not exhaustive. This is because not all metals or plastics can be sufficiently tempered to allow 3D printing. In addition, many of these printable materials are not recyclable and very few are food safe.

2. Restricted size

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Currently, 3D printers have small build chambers that limit the size of the parts that can be printed. Anything larger must be printed in separate parts and assembled after production. This can increase the cost and time involved for larger parts, as the printer has to print more parts before using manpower to assemble them.

3. Post-processing

While large parts will require post-processing as mentioned above, most 3D printed parts will require some form of cleaning to remove build support material and smooth the surface to achieve the required finish. Post-processing methods used include water jets, grinding, chemical soaking and rinsing, air or heat drying, assembly and others. The amount of post-processing required depends on factors such as the size of the part to be made, the intended application, and the type of 3D printing technology used in production. So while 3D printing allows parts to be produced quickly, post-processing can reduce manufacturing speeds.

4. Large amounts

3D printing is cost static, unlike more conventional techniques like injection molding where large quantities can be produced more cheaply. While the initial investment for 3D printing may be less than other manufacturing methods, once scaled up to produce large quantities for mass production, the per-unit cost doesn't drop like injection molding does.

5. Structure of the part

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3D printing (also called additive manufacturing) creates parts layer by layer. Although these layers adhere to each other, it also means that they can delaminate under certain stresses or orientations. This problem is most significant when manufacturing fused deposition modeling (FDM) articles, while multi-jet and multi-jet parts also tend to be more brittle. In certain cases it may be better to use injection molding as it creates homogeneous parts that will not separate or break.

6. Reduction of jobs in manufacturing

Another disadvantage of 3D technology is the potential reduction in human labor as most production is automated and performed by printers. However, many Third World countries depend on low-skilled jobs to keep their economies afloat, and this technology could threaten those jobs and eliminate the need for overseas manufacturing.

7. Construction defects

Another potential issue with 3D printing is directly related to the type of machine or process used, as some printers have tighter tolerances, meaning the final parts may vary from the original design. This can be corrected in post-processing, but it must be taken into account that this further increases production time and costs.

8. Copyright Issues

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As 3D printing becomes more popular and accessible, the likelihood of people making counterfeit and counterfeit products will increase and it will be almost impossible to tell the difference. This has obvious issues in terms of copyright as well as quality control.

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