snippet: How 3D printing Is Being Used Around The World?

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Applications of 3D Printing

How 3D Printing Is Being Used
Raptor Hand 3D Printed Prosthetic

One of the most heart warming of developments in recent years has been the 3D printing of customised prosthetics. Prosthetics that can cost as much as £30,000 can be replaced with something that costs in the region of £40 to print.

The e-NABLE network connects those in need of a prosthetic with volunteers who are happy to help 3D print a fitted prosthetic.

Rapid Prototyping

Probably the most popular usage of 3D printing is rapid prototyping. By designing and then 3D printing at your own premises, a lot of time and money can be saved on outsourcing. This means designers can fail faster by printing their item, identifying any issues, fixing them and re-printing. Or even better, printing many different variations in parallel and then comparing them to determine which one works best.

A computer showing CAD with a 3D printer printing the part shown on the computer
Young people looking at a 3D printer

Naturally 3D printing is very popular in education, but it doesn't just fit well with product design and engineering - it's also being used as an educational resource.

Because 3D printing is growing so rapidly, and there is going to be a high demand for those with 3D printing and CAD skills, education naturally has to prepare the workforce to have the skills they will need in the future.

Low Volume Manufacturing

Many companies are moving from rapid prototyping to low volume manufacturing. If you only require 50 copies of a part or product, it's likely to be most cost effective to have this 3D printed.

Bespoke Manufacturing

Another use in manufacturing is if you want to create a bespoke or customised product, it's often cheaper to do this using 3D printing. An example might be the production of a box with a customer logo embedded in it.

The full print bed of the Blueprinter
Young people looking at a 3D printer

Each time you have some work done on your teeth the Dentist has to take an impression of your teeth and traditionally a copy (otherwise known as a stone) was then created using a milling machine and stored for legal purposes.

Now dentists can use a 3D dental scanner which captures a 3D image of the mouth, this can then be used to print the stones on demand, negating the need for having to store hundreds of thousands of stones in a warehouse for many years.

Dental labs can also use the 3D impressions to create perfect fitting crowns, bridges and implants. This saves labour time, reduces errors and saves money.