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Common Misconceptions About 3D Printing

As 3D printing gains more traction in the consumer marketplace and is in the general public eye, the more it seems misconceptions about the technology are spread. We’re going to spend some time today addressing several common misconceptions about 3D printing tech and work to dismiss them for the greater good of public knowledge. Sound good? Let’s proceed...

Misconception #1: Price

Many people think that 3D printers have sky-high price tags. Yes, they aren’t exactly the cheapest pieces of equipment in the world but they aren’t as unaffordable as they may initially seem. The price for 3D printers has gone down considerably over the past several years and the price tag is definitely within reach for small and medium-sized businesses. No, the standard family likely won’t be able to afford one for their home office or just for fun, but they aren’t strictly reserved for corporations and large businesses anymore, either. Smaller businesses are quickly finding 3D printers to be an excellent investment since they make it much simpler to create mockups and prototypes. If you only need to produce a few items, they can also be used to print out the final product in some cases.

Misconception #2: Manufacturing Begone!

Many people also seem to think that 3D printing is going to replace traditional manufacturing. And while it may reduce the need for some traditional manufacturing situations, especially if the final product only needs to be made out of a simple plastic, factory production will still be required to produce products that need to be made from materials that are formed high temperatures. This includes metal, ceramic, and some plastics. Still, we are seeing more and more instances where 3D printing takes over for the handcrafting of products like in jewelry and models. For now, you can think of 3D printing as an excellent companion to the traditional manufacturing process. It’s likely it will grow in influence in terms of how it’s used to plan products, but it’s not likely it will serve as a replacement any time soon.

Misconception #3: It’s Just a Fad

When you see news reports about people creating three-dimensional doodles and printing out action figures, it’s easy to see why some people think 3D printing is just a fad. However, it has had a tremendous influence on the design process in recent years and that influence is anticipated to only increase over the next several more.

Already, designers and engineers use 3D printing to turn CAD drawings on the computer into physical, tangible, three-dimensional objects. While designers would have to send out an order to have a model made by hand based off of their CAD drawings in the past, now they can just print them out in the shop on their own time. Following the investment in a 3D printer, this is much cheaper than having each model made by hand. This is especially the case if engineers need to make changes after reviewing the physical model. Then another model would need to be made. You can easily see how this can get quite expensive when a model would have to be crafted for each revision. With a 3D printer, all you do is update the CAD drawing and print it out again. Your only cost is the raw material the printer uses. That’s it. The real life practical implications of this extends 3D printers far beyond just a fad for people looking to print out cheap plastic knickknacks.

Hopefully this helps to clear up some of the rumors and misconceptions about 3D printing. And maybe you even have a newfound appreciation for the technology. We certainly hope so. Until next time.

Image source: Creative Tools