Can 3D-Printed Objects Ever Last?

3D-printing has definitely impacted a lot of industries and as innovation continues, we expect more uses for it. Today, almost anything you can think of can already be 3D-printed. The question, especially for skeptics, is how durable and strong are these objects; can 3D-printed objects ever last?

3D-printed wrench

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A 2014 article by PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), predicting the outcome of the emerging 3d-printing technology at the time, noted that improvement was needed in three areas:

Performance: Improve key performance characteristics, such as speed, resolution, autonomous operation, ease of use, reliability, and repeatability.

Multi-material capability and diversity: Incorporate multiple types of materials, including the ability to mix materials while printing a single object.

Finished products: Provide the ability to print fully functional and active systems that incorporate many modules, such as embedded sensors, batteries, electronics, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and others.

Continuous research have indeed allowed improvements to happen in the areas mentioned. Read this abstract of a research on how to reduce the material cost and weight of a given object while providing a durable printed model that is resistant to impact and external forces.

Here’s about another research in 2014. Diran Apelian, a professor of mechanical engineering at WPI, is researching the use of so-called semi-solid metals, instead of powdered metals, in additive manufacturing. His work could give manufacturers more metals to work with and ultimately create 3D-printed products that are stronger and longer lasting. – Read more at:

Today in 2016, despite numerous studies to come up with the best materials, processes and 3D-printers that can address issues of durability and strength, challenges still remain, according to Dr Billy Wu, of the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial College in London. In response to the question (by Colin Smith) – “What are the current drawbacks with the technology?” – Dr. Billy Wu said, “Currently, the cost and speed of an additively manufactured part cannot compete against a mass produced item. Also, imperfections in the manufacturing process can result in quality issues in the 3D part. Much of the academic research is looking to address these challenges.” – Read more at:

But the advances continue, as the technology continues to make inroads into other industries including automotive and aerospace. Better materials are being used to create 3D-printed objects that can function well, and withstand the wear and tear of use.

[…] but, in order to compete with traditional manufacturing, composite materials will be essential to making 3D printing a viable technology for replacing conventional processes.

And, when it comes to composites, one of the most important for the manufacturing industry is carbon fiber–reinforced materials. Carbon fiber reinforcement can provide added strength to a part while maintaining a lighter weight, making it a cost-effective alternative to metals like titanium. In turn, the material is used in areas in which weight and strength are of critical importance, such as in the aerospace or performance automotive industries.Read more at:

Dymax Corporation, a manufacturing company in Connecticut, has come up with Bomar® BR-970H, ideal for formulating printing inks and resins for SLA, DLP, and 3D inkjet printers. See here.

 

 

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