In this 21st century, 3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing, has made many improvements and variations in the technology for making it more accessible, cost-effective, and precise. 3D printing has grown in diversity in recent years and leads to various usages in all kinds of industries and fields. 

A recent report by Grandview research indicated that the 3D printing industry market was valued at around 13.78 billion U.S. dollars in 2020. It is also estimated that it is expected to expand at a CAGR of 21% from 2021 to 2028. 

The 3D printing technology has more potential applications in serving across multiple industries, including manufacturing, education, entertainment, health care systems, and even more. The wider availability of 3D printing work had made many industries and organizations have been part of the development of each industry. Since 3D printing work is very promising in both manufacturing and availability, more and more use cases are springing up. 

Let’s dive into the 20 use cases of 3D printing technologies. 

  • In Automotive Industry

As additive manufacturing technology is matured and progressive in the current needs, that had helped the automotive industry to reduce its demand by providing more optimized productions, streamline supply chains, and logistics. 3D printing development is increasing widely and explored across all areas of automotive production. 

3D printers have significantly changed the way automotive prototypes are created,  designed, manufactured, and developed in the automotive industry. The first technology for building parts of the automotive industry was selective laser sintering or binder jetting. In earlier days, these two methods have been used to produce aesthetic parts but they were weak and had no longer life. 

In recent days, there are more robust technologies that are used for automotive 3D printing, such as fused filament fabrication (FFF) or fused deposition modeling (FDM). This is not only used for the production of prototypes but also for end-use parts.

Here are few examples from the well-known automakers using 3D printing technology,  which results in the best efforts and goals in today’s world.

Ford Motor Company had invested around $ 45 million in its advanced manufacturing center which is incorporated with 3D printing for their production lines. In the year 2020, it has marked that ford’s performance is the highest performance division, which had manufactured the largest 3D printed metal automotive part in history.

BMW is one of the top-notch automakers and has several success stories in implementing, and aligning the printed metal parts to their vehicles using additive manufacturing. By 2010, BMW manufactured more than one million 3D-printed parts which exceeded the limit. The goal of the BMW is to produce 50,000 components per year and 10,000 individual spare parts. 

Volkswagen is one of the early adopters of 3D printing, which is using it for several years. The main application of additive manufacturing technology in Volkswagen is for implementing the tools, the jigs & fixtures, and prototyping, which results in saving more money and time. 

A report by Global Automotive Outlook 2017 forecasts that the parts and accessories market would reach around 17 billion by the end of 2025. (https://archer-soft.com/blog/how-3d-printing-used-automotive-industry)

Advantages of 3D printing in the industry 

  • 3D printing is a total game-changer in the automotive industry because it produces less expensive printed plastic parts in a shorter duration. 
  • The reduction in the production of costs increases more number of manufacturing of complex designs. 
  • 3D printing solutions consume only lesser materials for production, which is beneficial for all stages of manufacturing in the automotive industry.
  • 3D printing works allow designers to apply multiple options of the same detail and iterations in the manufacturing of new model development.
  • 3D printing works provides more flexibility which results in efficient designs, and it can be modified until getting the desired design of specific parts.

   2) Education

3D printing empowers the educational sector in all school levels from primary to secondary schools, including universities, libraries, and technical colleges. Integrating 3D printing technology with education helps the students to learn more about the recent technologies and scientific concepts. 3D printing technology helps the engineering and architecture students by taking a print of the prototypes and 3D models of their desired design to understand the concepts. In history and geography classes, students can print out the historical artifacts, topography, demographic, or population maps. 

Teachers make use of 3D printer visualization for the improvisation of spatial learning. A recent study has remarked that 3D printing improved spatial learning from the year 2014.  MIT and the University of Texas and Virginia tech have their graduation and certification courses covering 3D printing and principles and design for 3D printing.

Advantages of 3D printing in the education

  • 3D printing integrated with education promotes problem-solving capabilities and skills of persistence powers to overcome the challenges.
  • Imparting new ideas and methodologies in education helps the students to solve real-world problems, which led to learning about empathy and teamwork. 
  • 3D printing makes sure to provide both theoretical as well as hands-on practice to the students in the educational sector. 
  • 3D printing encourages students by improving their creativity and an innovative level higher and higher by building prototypes.
  • It is more affordable and user-friendly, both students and educators can utilize this unlimited learning opportunity. 

3)Digital Dentistry

3D printing technologies thrive in digital dentistry with digital workflows results in customized solutions for dental problems. This technology helps the dentist to scan the patient’s mouth with a small digital wand, and it can be viewed as a 3D image of teeth or gums. Dentists can digitally design the tooth repair and print the result using computer-aided software (CAD). By the same process, orthodontic models, highly accurate crown, bridge models, surgical guides, aligners, castable restorations, retainers, and long-term biocompatible dental products like splints are created. 

The 3D printing market in Digital Dentistry was valued at $ 1.8 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $6.5 billion by the end of 2025, at a CAGR of 28.8%. (https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/dental-3d-printing-market-258228239.html)

Advantages of 3D printing in the dentistry

  • In digital dentistry, the 3D models are more stable and durable, the lines and edges on a 3D model are very precise. 
  • The 3D printing of digital dentistry enables improved efficiency, saves both time and cost.
  • One of the main advantages of 3D printing in the digital industry reduces errors and allows accurate fit. 

4)Aerospace

The aerospace industry was one of the earliest adopters of 3D printing technology in the 1980’s, and still, it is considered to have the highest rate of adoption of 3D printing technologies. Due to the demand for more aircraft parts, the aerospace industry uses 3D printing works for greater production and supply chains. It significantly provides fast delivery of finished parts and the capability to design for additive manufacturing (DfAm). A study in 2015 proved that the aerospace and defense industries contributed 16% to 3D printing around $4.9 billion across the globe. 

Here are few examples from the well-known companies using 3D printing technology, which leads to interesting benefits of 3D printing. 

Boeing incorporated 3D printing for satellite production, and the first 3D-printed metal was created in the year 2019. The antenna was launched last August 2020 and was built for Spacecom, the Israel company. The major benefit of Boeing from additive manufacturing is the production of its finest jets.

NASA has turned to additive manufacturing for developing space exploration in different ways. Around 7, 000 pounds of spare parts are sent to the International Space Station (ISS) every year, to reduce the cost of production the 3D printing technology is used here.

However, 3D printing technology is used for manufacturing complex structures, sophisticated materials, or cost-efficient parts that need to meet the highest standards. It also manufactures interior aircraft components such as cockpit dashboards and door handles. 

Advantages of 3D printing in aerospace

  • The 3D printing technology is used to create more fixtures, jigs, gauges, and templates. 
  • With the help of 3D technology in aerospace, it reduces the aircraft weight with 3D components and eliminates the expensive tooling changes. 
  • And, the assembly of parts in the aircraft and quality assurance costs are reduced. 

5)Art and Jewelry

3D printing technology has a significant impact on 3D jewelry printing, the 3D printed jewelry will have high resolution and high accuracy. The three methods of 3D jewelry printers are Drop demand, Digital Light Processing (DLP), and Stereolithography (SLA). It helps the traditional jewelry makers to customize the design asked by the customers for a specific model. Jewelry is printed only when the customer is satisfied with the prototype. The material used for casting 3D printing is affordable and flexible.

3D printing allows the designer or jewelry maker to express their creativity and innovations with fewer constraints. Arts and Jewelry manufactured by this technique can reach the market faster with low costs.  The solid scape is one of the reputed manufacturers of 3D printing jewelry that had recently entered India.  

6) Glasses and Eyewear

The evolution of the optical industry had grown from time to time, 3D printing technology helps in designing and manufacturing glasses. The production of glasses and eyewear is higher using the 3D printing works while compared to the standard methods of production. Using 3D printing technology, the optical industry produces 100% customized eyewear with ideal frames. Some of the 3D-printed glasses and their manufacturer names are listed below.

  • Screwless – Ericsko.
  • Simple – Cirion.
  • Cat-eye – M Badia
  • Rectangular – The drunk penguin
  • Bendable – Fbillowes
  • Flat – Langfordw.

As of 2019, the market of the Eyewear industry using 3D printing technology is around $500 million and it is predicted that it would grow 2.5x times by the end of 2027.

7)Prosthetics

Thanks to 3D printing for making prosthetics costs very affordable because commonly prosthetics price range from $5000 to $50,000, which is quite expensive for mid-range of people. Many companies had incorporated 3D printing to produce more prosthetics and make them accessible to a range of people who needs them. Custom prosthetic covers are created using 3D printing technology and photogrammetry. Nowadays, Modern prosthetics come with a microprocessor to help in improving mobility. knee amputations and transfemoral amputations are examples of modern prosthetics. 

8)Architecture

The architecture industry is already based on geometric design, prototyping, and modeling, whereas the advances of 3D printing technology are applied more and more. The 3D printing technology easily enables the digital workflow of complex architectural scale models and improves the 3D modeling phase of constructional design. It allows the architects to see the fine details with much greater visualization. 

Benefits of 3D printing in Architecture

  • 3D printing in the architecture increases in faster production with zero material waste.
  • It is fully automated which eliminates manual errors.
  • Using additive manufacturing in architecture, results in faster technology reduces supply costs, and which are eco-friendly. 

9)Entertainment

 3D printing has already collaborated with the entertainment industry which is widely used for practical visual effects and costuming. Hollywood movies, it had changed the movie sets that are built using prototyping of 3D printing technology. 

It is a total game-changer in the movie and DFX industry to create props and costumes with high standards. The action figures and memorials in the movie studio and fan clubs have been created using 3D printing technology. 

10) Shoes

In recent years, 3D printing has been used for footwear prototyping that allows footwear professionals to enable craft test shoes before making their final products. It is forecasted that the revenue of the footwear market is around $260 billion in 2018, and the 3D printing technology in footwear is expected to reach around $6.3 billion by the end of 2028. With the help of 3D technology, shoes can be customized by choosing their look and color. 

Some of the leading additive manufacturing brands are New Balance, Adidas, Nike, Under Armour, and Reebok results in the production of millions of final parts. Adidas is a top brand that had implemented additive manufacturing in footwear mass production. 

The Adidas company had already manufactured S100,000 pairs of shoes with plastic midsoles using 3D printing technology digital light synthesis (DLS). The Current models of Adidas are AlphaEdge and Y-3 Runner.  Nike was one of the earlier adopters of intensive 3D printing technology in the production of high-performance products and uses it for faster iterations. The first 3D textile footwear “Nike Flyprint” is manufactured by the company “Nike” using Solid Deposit Modeling (SDM). Reebok is a top brand that had manufactured liquid float ride shoes in the year 2018 using the 3D drawing process. 

11)Fashion

The 3D printing technology or additive manufacturing adds more interesting facts in the fashion world by creating more prototypes and models for the designers. This technology led to creating more fantastic 3D printed fashion in garments, ornamental, and fashion industries. It allows the designers to work in a range of new possibilities, it not only alters the production of textiles, but it will also lead to the production of new textiles. 

Artists who follow the 3D printing workflow produce smart clothing as personalized, wearable, and data-driven one with an artistic purpose. 

12)Music

3D printing has been already integrated with the music industry, to produce 3D printed musical instruments, 3D printed records, 3D printed speakers, and 3D printed headphones. The 3D printing technique allows the designer to create the instrument digitally, and then print out the parts in various phases of iteration. The famous french violin manufacturing company 3DVarious focuses on designing and manufacturing electric violins using 3D printing. The two major instruments designed using 3D printing are violins and Trudel. 

 

With 3D printing technology, designers can customize a musical instrument at a very low or reasonable price. Few famous such as VLANLAB, Olaf Diegel, and Syos are responsible for creating instruments using 3D printed technology. There is no doubt that 3D printing is evolving and changing the music industry in positive ways and enriched with numerous applications.

Generally, 3D printing is a key driver for more scopes and numerous applications in the current era. The implications of 3D printing technology are spreading and advancing over the past five years and the technology has huge potential to meet all the current needs.


References:

https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/3d-printing-industry-analysis

Automotive Industry – 

https://archer-soft.com/blog/how-3d-printing-used-automotive-industry

https://www.3dcastor.com/post/the-best-applications-of-3d-printing-in-the-automotive-industry

Digital Dentistry – 

https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/dental-3d-printing-market-258228239.html 

https://www.evansondds.com/how-3d-printing-is-revolutionizing-dentistry/

Glass and Eyewear – https://www.transparencymarketresearch.com/3d-printing-in-eyewear-market.html

Shoes – https://www.3dprintingmedia.network/five-footwear-industry-leaders-using-3d-printing-for-production-today/

https://www.smartechanalysis.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SmarTech_WP_Footwear.pdf

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