If you’re even partially awake then you’ve obviously heard a lot about additive manufacturing of late, specifically 3-D printing. For those of us in manufacturing the development and integration of additive manufacturing and 3d printing is likely to impact us all in some shape or form.
While I don’t believe this will be a death knell or manufacturing apocalypse for our CNC machine brethren, I do believe it behooves us all to keep our eyes on additive manufacturing developments and if at all possible seek ways to educate ourselves. Even better yet, if your company or shop has a way to integrate these technologies into your workflow than all the better. I’m a believer in staying ahead of the competition and what may now be a niche market could very well lead to major business in the near future.
What for many was an accompaniment to a DIY CNC hobby is going mainstream.
DIY CNC: 3-D Printing at Your Local UPS Store
According to de zeen magazine, the UPS Store will become the first US retailer to offer 3-D printing services.
Customers will be able to bring a Computer Aided Design (CAD) file in to the participating stores and have their designs 3D-printed on-site.
According to the article, Stratasys will be providing their uPrint SE Plus at locations slated for the pilot run of this new service. It will be using ABSplus thermoplastic with nine colors to choose from.
Okay, you might be saying, “What does this have to do with me? I’m running a CNC machine shop. I deal with steel, aluminum, wood, etc…”
At first glance this is going to appeal to the DIY enthusiasts out there, but I believe it drives home how ubiquitous 3-D printing is going to become. I believe this may well be an easy, low cost way of checking out the technology to see if it could fit into your workflow prior to making such a large financial obligation. Some digging around the internet pegged this particular unit from between 18000 and 21000 plus dependent on seller.
Definitely not a casual investment.
For Your CNC Manufacturing Consideration
A few things to consider, sourced from the Forbes.com article Manufacturing The Future: 10 Trends To Come In 3D Printing.
- “The technology will also start to be adopted for the direct manufacture of specialist components in industries like defense and automotive.”
- “Innovative companies will use 3D printing technologies to give themselves a competitive advantage by offering customization at the same price as their competitor’s standard products.”
- Rapid prototyping
- “As the capabilities of 3D printers develop and manufacturers gain experience in integrating them into production lines and supply chains, expect hybrid manufacturing processes that incorporate some 3D-printed components.”
I keep reading, time and again, that the future of manufacturing is going to be customization. As the Forbes article highlights, 3-D printing is poised to bring about that capability on a massive, manufacturing scale.
Prototyping replacement parts doesn’t have to be solely for the CNC hobbyist/3-d Printer garage guru. I see this as a cost effective way for testing prototypes. Read more about the benefits of integrating 3-D printing here.
As the Forbes article states, expect to see this implemented on factory floors.
3-D printing: A lot of hot air, or the future of our manufacturing process? Too early in it’s development to care, or a great time to get started when it comes to educating ourselves and planning for integration? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!