By Ben Gardell, 3D Printing Consultant at R&D Technologies
There is a big boom of 3D Printing interest happening in the world today. There is a lot of hype due to great work done by medical research, toy companies, and even the home user. All of the 3D printed parts used in these situations grab a lot of attention and help get the word out. But what about every other way 3D Printing is used?
Some of the most important ways 3D Printing is being utilized today are inadvertently the most unknown ways to use the technology. Something as simple as a basic drill guide that was originally made out of lightweight metals such as aluminum are now being made much quicker and cheaper with 3D Printers. The advantages here would be customization and the ability to make a lighter guide. Also, don’t forget this guide is now also being produced in house and on a machine that can run day and night without an operator present. There are a lot of situations similar to this; low volume injection and extrusion molds, manufacturing jigs, and CMM fixtures just to name a few. These are some of the most unrecognized and underutilized 3D Printing applications. Every day we see more manufacturers using 3D Printing as a versatile support system and someday 3D Printers will become a standard in the everyday manufacturer’s arsenal.