What to make with a 3D printer?
Posted By Lucie Gaget on Feb 7, 2018 |
3D printing applications are numerous. But what to make with a 3D printer, exactly? You really might be surprised by all the applications of additive manufacturing and the diversity of industries using the 3D printing technology. If you are new with this technology you are maybe wondering what it is possible to make with a 3D printer. And even if you are already using additive manufacturing, we are sure there are still some 3D printing applications that you never thought about! In this blogpost, we are going to review what it is possible to do with these 3D machines, and we will give you some 3D printing ideas.
First we will see globally how 3D printing can be a real asset for professional applications, and then we will see tough various examples what it is possible to make with a 3D printer. From 3D printed house to 3D printed bike helmet, we will show you in this article that a 3D printer can be a great help for any industry. It could seriously give you some 3D print ideas!
Overview: What is 3D printing useful for ?
Obviously, to try 3D printing, you need to use a 3D printer. This technology can be used by hobbyists to create everyday life printed objects, but keep in mind that this technology can be a great help for a professional use. It can be implemented in any industry, from the creation of consumer goods to dental implants, everything is possible. You are maybe wondering how 3D printing can be useful inside of your company. Additive manufacturing has a lot of benefits, both for prototyping and production, and we will explain you how it could be an important asset for your product development process.
3D printers will help you with your prototypes
The 3D printing technology is a real advantage for your prototyping process. Indeed, it allows you to iterate in order to get the perfect final 3D printed object. With this technique, you can work and rework efficiently on the design of your 3D model. This process is faster and your can create many versions of your project at a lower cost than with traditional manufacturing methods. This technique will allow you to give the right shape to your object, and also to test and choose the right 3D printing material, so it can totally fit your needs.
Production with 3D printing is now possible
3D printing is often seen as a prototyping technology. But now, you can actually use it for production as well. This technology is more and more used by companies to manufacture functional 3D prints. Indeed, we saw in our last State of 3D Printing report that a growing 22% of the users of this technology were using it for production. You can produce great finished products thanks to additive manufacturing. Indeed, 3D printing is allowing mass-customization, which is really important in some sectors such as the medical industry. As a result, 3D printing could be a real competitive advantage for your company.
Thus, it can change a lot of things in your production process. It could also make you rethink your supply chain, you could reduce the production costs by avoiding tooling investments and cut down the waste of material. Moreover, using a 3D printer makes it possible to produce just small batches, which is an aspect that can be convenient when you are just starting a new business, for example. Mass production with 3D printing is also possible, you don’t necessarily have to use injection molding or any other traditional manufacturing process.
As you can see,your company can benefit from additive manufacturing in multiple ways. If you want more details about how 3D printing can be useful inside of a company, we’ve listed 9 major arguments to convince your boss to use 3D printing.
New innovations and new 3D printers entering the market
You will see in this blogpost that there are a lot of possibilities and technologies currently available on the market. You can use 3D printers to help you in the creation of a lot of different projects. Moreover, it is becoming possible to 3D print even more impressive projects with the emergence of new technologies such as metal 3D printers or large scale 3D printers. It becomes possible to print large and strong structures, with very resistant materials such as concrete or metal.
To know more about the latest 3D printers unveiled on the 3D printing market, you can read our blog post reviewing the best 3D innovations launched during Formnext 2017, a big trade show specially made for additive manufacturing.
More concretely, what could you make with a 3D printer?
The answer to this question is quite simple: almost everything. Indeed, almost everything is 3D printable. You can print a whole project, a device, or just some parts of it. We will give you examples of what you can create with a 3D printer. Obviously, there are many different 3D printing technologies, so you have to choose carefully the printer that will fit your needs or use an online 3D printing service such as Sculpteo in order to use our professional 3D printers. Once you have your 3D design for your 3D printing project, you have to choose the kind of 3D printing technology that will fit your ideas.
What are the different technologies offered by 3D printers?
Here are the major technologies in the additive manufacturing industry requiring specific 3D printers:
- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS): This technology creates plastic parts by sintering fine polyamide powder. It fuses the powder particles locally according to your 3D model. It is using a layer by layer technique to create the parts.
- CLIP technology (DLS): This 3D printing technique is made to 3D print resin materials. You can actually access different resin materials on our 3D printing service to create your 3D printed parts. This technology uses a photochemical process where a liquid resin is solidified by UV light layer by layer to create a rigid and detailed part.
- Polyjet: It is also a method to print resin materials. The 3D printers jet layers of curable liquid photopolymer onto a build tray. Really fine layers are accumulated on the build tray in order to create several highly-detailed 3D printed products.
- Selective Laser Melting (SLM): This technique uses a laser to fused metal powder particles together. During this process, the powder is entirely melted by the laser. The part is created layer by layer, according to your 3D model. It is the perfect technique to create resistant metal parts.
- Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS): It is using the same process than the Selective Laser Sintering technique, but the sintering temperature is way higher than for plastic material (between 1510°C and 1600°C).
- Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM): this filament technology can be used for various plastic materials. The filament is melted through the nozzle of the printer, and deposited layer by layer on a build platform.
There are a lot of other techniques to create your 3D printed objects. A lot of different 3D printers can be used. Check out our material page to get more information about the 3D printing techniques that we are offering at Sculpteo.
Examples of industries where 3D printers can be used
3D printing for the medical industry
Medical 3D printing is really starting to help surgeons save lives. 3D printers are more and more used in the medical field. It allows to create parts for various applications. For example, additive manufacturing is a good method to create implants, or custom-made prosthetics. This way, prostheses are cheaper to produce and more affordable for the patient. It leads to innovative and life saving projects, such as this one: surgeons using 3D printing for breast reconstruction. It is also a good way to create tools perfectly adapted to complicated surgeries. If you are working in the medical sector, 3D printers may soon be one of your main tools.
Medical 3D printing is also becoming a new solution to create medical models. Yes, you can easily find a cool thing to 3D print, but additive manufacturing is also saving lives! Surgeons are now using medical models, like 3D printed livers or 3D printed hearts in order to perform before the actual surgery. This way, they are perfectly ready for the surgery, it is a time saving technique, because they know exactly what is going to happen.
3D printers and more specially desktop 3D printers, are also making their entrance in dentistry. Indeed, the sales of 3D printers for the dental industry are increasing very fast as the use of this technology is appearing to be really relevant in this sector. It is possible to print a dental crown or aligners in no time. It is a real advantage for the professionals that are avoiding all the molding process. They digitize a part of their work, and they are not forced to stock all their molds anymore.
3D printed architecture
3D printing is particularly useful in architecture these days. It is for example a good solution to create models of future construction. Large scale 3D printers are now a reality. It is possible to create bigger objects in just one part. It is even possible to make 3D prints at an architectural scale. Indeed, the need of bigger printers led to the creation of concrete 3D printers. If you are interested in concrete 3D printers, check out our blogpost about the latest innovations in concrete 3D printing!
These machines can now create a 3D printed house, or even 3D printed urban features such as bridges. It is a real revolution for the construction industry, now 3D printed houses can be made in just one day. Automated construction is really promising and will certainly help to build homes and various structures all around the world in the upcoming years.
3D printing for decoration and design
3D printers are obviously a great tool for designers as it is allowing to work on any design, even the most complex ones. Indeed, intricate geometries are not a problem when you are producing with 3D printing.
Once that your 3D model is created, the 3D printer can produce it. Check out this blogpost about 3D printed lamps to get an insight of what 3D printer are able to do when it comes to decoration. It is actually possible to create any home decoration thanks to 3D printing, vases, wall decorations, or even furnitures.
3D printed accessories
Believe it or not, but 3D printers are now able to create your jewelry! Thanks to metal 3D printing, it now possible to create divers metal objects, including jewelry. Moreover, a wide range of 3D printing metal materials are now on the market. Check all the metal 3D printing materials available on our online 3D printing service. We are also offering amazing plating and finish options for our metal 3D printed parts.
In the same spirit, you should know that 3D printed watches are also amazing. There are a lot of impressive creations and promising projects in this area. It is still complicated to create a whole watch thanks to 3D printing, but it is possible to create some parts at a lower price, and great watch designs.
3D printed fashion items
The fashion industry is also making the most of 3D printers. As we just said it, 3D printers are allowing to work on designs. 3D printed designs are easy to create, you don’t have to mind about the complexity of the part, you are free to create any idea on your 3D modeling software and then, you just have to 3D print it. It is also a way to make new creations and crazy experimentations, using new materials and complex geometries.
It is totally possible to create clothes thanks to 3D printing, but it is not the only use of 3D printing in the fashion industry. 3D printing is also revolutionizing the footwear industry. The additive manufacturing technology is making it possible to create custom made midsoles in order to fit anybody’s morphology. Brands such as Adidas are part of this revolution, for instance.
Optic industry and additive manufacturing
3D printed glasses are becoming more and more common. As 3D printing is a good production method to create item made-to-measure that can be adapted to any morphology, glasses really seem to be a good product to 3D print. Mass customisation can be really convenient in the optic industry and 3D printing is allowing designers to create new designs and to make iterations. Moreover, thanks to the new Color Touch finish that we are offering at Sculpteo, it is possible to get products with an impressive finish, and that will last in time.
One of our customers, Octobre71, is using our online 3D printing service to create its 3D printed glasses using a 3D printing process. If your want to know how the company is using the additive manufacturing technology inside of their production process, read this customer story!
Bike and 3D printing
3D printers can also produce any useful item that you need in your daily life. For example, did you know about the Kupol project? A 3D printed helmet created with 3D printing, with the 3D printer developed by HP, the MultiJet Fusion technology. Here, additive manufacturing is used for the prototyping process. Also, it will be used for the final production of the helmet.
At Sculpteo, we also have created a 3D bike only using digital manufacturing. A lot of parts of this bike were created using the 3D printing and laser cutting technologies.
Additive manufacturing is more and more used for these types of projects, from 3D printed bikes to 3D printed electric unicycle, everything is becoming 3D printable.
A 3D printer for food
You are not dreaming, 3D printers are also able to 3D print food. More than just food, a machine is actually made to 3D print pizza. This printer has various options, able to make a pizza in only 6 minutes. The project is actually made for astronauts, in order to create tastier food during their missions. As you can see, there is obviously a printer that will fit your needs.
3D printed instruments
Yes, musical instruments can also be 3D printed! For example, the french violin manufacturer 3Dvarius launched a full collection of electric violins made using additive manufacturing. These musical instruments can be custom-made using 3D technology, to fit perfectly the morphology of the musician.
3D printed tools
Additive manufacturing can also be a big asset for your tooling process. Somes companies such as the car manufacturer Volkswagen decided to use 3D printing to create their tools, fixtures, jigs, etc. This helped them to save money on parts that were manufactured externally. But 3D printing is also the perfect solution to create custom-made tools, for sculptors, or surgeons, to get tools perfectly adapted to their needs.
The company Made in Space is also testing 3D printing is space, in order to manufacture in space, directly when astronauts need them. As you can imagine, sending tools to space is a bit expensive. They started 3D printing several tools such as this wrench:
3D printers and craftsmanship: a good combination
With a little bit of craftsmanship, you can totally create more complicated projects. More than just one 3D printed object, you can totally create completely 3D printed devices. For example, it is possible to create 3D printed drones or 3D printed solar panels. Some experiments are made and it is even possible to create 3D printed cars. If you are planning to create your own 3D printing business, you see that almost everything is doable.
You can’t 3D print these projects in just one part for the moment. You just have to print it in different parts and then, assemble them. You could also have a 3D printer project. Yes, it is even possible to 3D print a 3D printer, you could totally manufacture an amazing 3D printer project using this technology.
3D printers can help you to create the craziest projects!
You got it, you can 3D print whatever you want ! Even the craziest things: we already told you about this in a previous blog post but, 3D printers are allowing you to 3D print your brain. We explain you how it is possible in our article.
You can see that 3D printer are allowing to create amazing project. But it is also a good tool to make experiments: 3D printer are more and more used in schools, or by researchers, because it is becoming a major tool to make fast and cheaper experiments. Researches are made to use 3D printers in space, other researches are made to understand how it could be possible to use 3D printers to make new human tissues or bones.
Do you have to get your own 3D printer?
You can totally buy your own desktop 3D printer. But with these kind of 3D printers you cannot access all technologies. Indeed, desktop 3D printers are often using the FDM technology, which can be useful if you want to make little parts such as a bottle opener, a paper clip, a cable holder or a keychain for example. But for bigger projects, for prototyping or production, there is another solution: you can use an online 3D printing service such as Sculpteo in order to make the most of our professional 3D printers and to try all the 3D printing technologies that you want. We are offering various technologies to print your parts, it might be the best solution to find the one that will fit your project. Moreover, you will get parts with a great and professional finish.
As the 3D printing technology is evolving fast, it will be possible to print more and more different projects, using new 3D printing materials in the upcoming years. The question “what to make with a 3D printer” was maybe relevant in the past, but not now everything is 3D printable.
As you can see, you can create any 3D printing project, as this technology is now really accessible. The 3D printing technology can be included in any business as a prototyping or producing method.