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Additive Manufacturing Processes

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Pros and Cons for various 3D printing methods in creating prototypes or functional components.

I believe a lot of 3D printing will come down to the software. There are so many different slicers out there, each with their different methodology to slicing the layers to provide the user with the necessary gcode. There are some that compensate for expansion, shrink, uniform wall thickness, support structures, etc. Fine tuning the software to work every time will be key to using AM as a viable large quantity production method. Lucky for us, the 3D printing community speaks up when something doesn't work right, and companies are implementing changes to fix these issues. If this keeps up, at the rate we are going, I can foresee AM taking leaps into the production industry in the next 5 years, or sooner.

As things evolve it has become more apparent the strength of 3D printing over conventional manufacturing practices of making components then assemblies is 3D printing can produce complete assemblies. If I had that crystal ball to look into suggesting I might see 3D printed complete component assemblies ready for use. With water soluble support materials arriving on stage and using multiple print heads the future is here. Refine it, hone it, the process needs to be at its optimum, then industry will accept it with open arms. The skill required to draw model assemblies that that have the acceptable gaps where needed while maintaining function and accuracy as needed will be in demand, hone those skills. I designed a part just today to take advantage of that, its a different approach in modeling.

The thought there SIMPAD17 is to think beyond components but to leverage the true strength of 3D printing complete assemblies.