From the perspective of a mechanical engineering student, 3D printing is something that has shrouded the engineering industry in anticipation for what the future may hold. Manufacturing in the past has basically been CNC and injection molding. Expensive and boring machines that have many limitations as to what you can create. Engineers love to create (at least in my opinion). Anything you can do to try and make creation a more interesting and cost-effective process, the better! Injection molding and CNC machines are incredibly expensive and requires lots of training and maintenance. 3D printing or additive manufacturing offers endless possibility for a price that is more feasible and accessible to the average consumer. To make the “art of creation” engaging is much more difficult with different types of manufacturing, as compared to 3D printing.
I was first introduced to 3D printing in high school working with makerspace level 3D printers in one of my classes. I immediately fell in love with the technology. In college, I had the opportunity to work with many different types of makerspace 3D printers at my own leisure. These printers had the ability to create many different models. A few drawbacks to these low-level machines: there were many missteps in prints, and the speed of printing is not ideal. The limitations of these cheaper machines led me to investigate higher quality 3D printers, geared toward the industrial side of additive manufacturing. Enter R&D Technologies, the leading company in Rhode Island for industrial grade additive manufacturing machines and part sales.
Now as the reader you are probably thinking, “oh great, this is going to be another sales pitch by some corporate guy trying to sell me a 3D printer”. Well you would be right in retrospect. The only thing is that I am an intern for R&D Technologies, not a salesman! In the past couple months, I have had the privilege to work alongside the R&D team and help operate some of the most advanced 3D printers available on the market! These industrial printers are some of the greatest manufacturing and prototyping machines in the world. The advantages they have over lower end additive manufacturing machines are simply astonishing. With sub $10,000 printers you get inconsistencies in the prints, limitations due to single head extrusion, MUCH smaller print size, material restrictions and most importantly, reliability. You can print tens of thousands of hours on these industrial printers and they will not skip a beat.
3D printing is always adapting and changing. R&D Technologies has the capability to produce parts like few others. They also have the intuition to help you with what you need when it comes to manufacturing. Additive is simply a great solution. It takes the boring processes of manufacturing and makes them interesting, engaging, and accessible to all! Any aspiring engineer like me will fall in love with this technology.