There is a reason that 3D printing is looming so big in the robotics world right now.
It has to do with the fourth Industrial Revolution, and what it can do for modern enterprise. Automation is doing so much in the software world, in administration, and in various intangible parts of operations. But it’s also profoundly affecting the nuts and bolts of physical manufacturing.
3D printing is a major part of how businesses are using the principles of industry 4.0 to modernize and create efficiencies. So what are they using 3D printing for?
Here are some of the most common use cases for this type of cutting-edge automation.
Just like mass manufacturing in the prior industrial revolution, 3D printing greatly increases what a company is able to do with the same amount of time and effort. Working at economies of scale, 3D printing can revolutionize the production of all sorts of consumer goods or other manufactured products.
With the right infrastructure, 3D printing will turn out excellent results for long production runs, improving what companies were able to do with the 20th century assembly line process.
That may involve using hardware elements like control drives or other kinds of components to manage the essential product run system. Companies will typically brainstorm objectives, and then put together an architecture that works, based on knowing how processes like machine-to-machine (M2M) have evolved in their industries. However it is done, the manufacturing gains will likely drive productivity and profits.
What about when a client wants a specific kind of part or piece that is not readily available?
3D printing seems perfect for these types of scenarios. Companies can quickly retool and re-engineer an output result for custom production, which was much more difficult and a lengthy process just some years ago. Now, companies can take a much broader and more diverse spectrum of orders, which can add to the bottom line tremendously.
Here’s another major way that companies are using 3D printing internally. So much of product development has to do with brainstorming – working in a laboratory environment to figure out what’s best and what should be focused on for eventual production. But how do you do that without being able to hold an early version of a product in your hand?
The prototype is the key way that companies get their hands on their ideas, to refine a concept and move toward live production. 3D printing is the essential vehicle for making all sorts of useful prototypes for testing, market research and much more. Teams can print out the item, play around with it, visualize changes, etc. It’s a very common part of business process improvement in the product development sphere, and something that is rapidly being adopted as a best practice.
Diversifying Product Lines
Many manufacturing companies know that they can get further by diversifying their products. They want to have as wide a spectrum of products as possible. 3D printing really helps, by enabling templates and automation systems that can craft many different but similar product alternatives. The addition of features, colors, styles, etc. is a major profit driver for many businesses, whether their sales model is ecommerce, in-store, or hybrid.
On Demand Production
Essentially, 3D printing can make the manufacturing world more like the cloud, where clients and customers get on demand service.
What this looks like in the cloud has to do with rapid elasticity and resource pooling models that give a user things like CPU and memory on demand.
What it looks like in a manufacturing setup is hardware and equipment that can churn out physical products with a 3D printing plan at the drop of a hat. We’ve seen the powerful ways that virtualization supports government and business offices. Now we can see 3D printing doing some of those same things for industrial manufacturers.
These are some of the major use cases for 3D printing in today’s business world. Many experts see 3D printing as a sector of its own within IT, for these reasons. There are also other types of automations useful in “smart manufacturing” (many of them for process oversight, etc.) that businesses can take advantage of. Think about how to integrate these technologies into business processes, to add productivity and profit to your company.