Being an innovator or inventor can be very exciting. When someone dreams up a new tool, mechanism, or gadget that could change the world, this begins the long journey of bringing what they envisage to reality. Developing a product can be far from easy because of the need for the right expertise and equipment to get started. That hurdle has been changed with the advent of 3D printing. For innovators and inventors especially, creating their dream product has never been easier.
How a 3D Printer Works
Similar to a regular inkjet printer, a 3D printer takes a file design and “prints” the blueprint. In an inkjet printer, this file could be a Word document. The output from that is a piece of paper with the design or data from the original files. The difference with a 3D printer is that, as its name suggests, the output from using a design file is in three dimensions. This could be anything from a mini statue, a mug, a building material, a unique container, or a tool. As an inkjet printer uses ink to produce its output, a 3D printer can use a range of materials depending on what the product needs to be made of. Some of the materials that have been used in 3D printing include metal, plastic, and even wood.
3D printers can come in small desktop size units, and this is why they are changing the manufacturing space. Many manufacturing equipment setups are very large and expensive. It can be difficult for a designer or an inventor to gain access to these. With a 3D printer, more and more people can and have started creating artwork, tools, and unique objects in their garages.
Top Applications of a 3D Printer
The 3D printer eliminates a lot of the barriers that inventors face when they want to develop their products. it allows them to test and create different designs for themselves. The technology is only growing and improving and is being used in industries such as traditional metal manufacturing, art, interior décor, as well as the food and health industries.
Here are some of the top reasons that innovators can benefit from using 3D printers and the various applications of these machines:
• Rapid prototyping- Taking a design from pen and paper to a real object needs a lot of tweaking of designs. The initial prototype can be created quickly with a 3D printer so that the inventor can have a working model of their design. This allows them to access the practicality and usability of what they dreamt up. Depending on how the prototype looks and functions, the innovator can make some changes or move on to the mass production phase. In this way, they save both time and money in the design and production stages.
• Easy customization- For innovators who already have a product, 3D printing allows for quick changes to different parts of the product. The trend with many products is leaning towards customization, and if this can be done easily and quickly, the innovator stands to gain because they can cater to a range of customers wanting custom gifts and other items.
• Medical research- The benefits mentioned above apply to many fields including the medical research industry. Thanks to 3D printing, medical researchers who work in areas such as the development of prosthetic limbs can develop prototypes and customized samples to get them to their patients and clients quicker. The necessary process of customizing medical equipment and accessories can be done rapidly.
There are many other ways in which 3D printing has great benefit. While it might not replace mass manufacturing anytime soon because of the additional costs, it is changing things around on a smaller scale.