Jul 13, 20235180
The enthusiasm for 3D printing has increased over the past decade. However, this enthusiasm has outstripped the level of innovation and development. In other words, the development can‘t keep up with expectations. So how does it make a breakthrough? The technology media TechCrunch published an article to analyze it.
Why hasn't 3D printing become a desirable method of manufacturing? Why is the failure rate of this technology still so high and reproducibility so difficult? Obviously, this is not a dilemma caused by special materials or too advanced and complicated controls. What really restricts the innovation of 3D printing technology is the way we look at these technologies: we only regard it as a single component manufacturing, but lack of systematization.
We might as well change the vision of 3D printing and regard it as a system composed of various parts. In this way, our perception of the function changes. Generally speaking, we divide a production system into the following elements.
Design. What users will be able to achieve after using the functional design.
Hardware. The part that actually makes the physical product.
Materials. They include resin, metal, ceramics, plastic or natural materials. These materials can eventually become real functional products through 3D printing technology.
Software. It's responsible for converting design data into manufacturing data. There are software installed on machines and software that transmits data to machines.
Generally speaking, the most easily overlooked element in this system is the direct fragmented connection path of each field. Outdated ways of thinking are holding back our progress toward truly realizing the potential of 3D printing.
Printing today revolves around old technology. What 3D technology can currently achieve is to help people skip the stage of model making and directly enter the manufacturing process. But in fact, the predecessors have made a lot of efforts and developed new design tools to improve engineering manufacturing. The development of three-dimensional manufacturing has made 3D printing technology a substitute for old-fashioned production until now.
We're still building rapid prototyping machines. Current machines are all-rounders, but not specialists. As rapid prototyping machines, they are only used to complete the lowest common part of various manufacturing projects.
As a result, these machines can do a lot, but very little well. We have to reconsider the purpose of designing these printers and clarify the production and life problems that these technologies can solve. What we need is to build a 3D printer around a real problem that needs to be solved, instead of making a machine out of thin air and then looking for a suitable problem to solve.
Hardware problems are ultimately software problems. In addition to focusing on real-life production applications, we need to enable these machines to take advantage of software. That is, we need "smart" 3D printers, which have a large number of monitoring sensors and Internet access for monitoring and real-time analysis.
For example, Autodesk's open-source 3D printer Ember is equipped with sensors that can help the machine recover from failures freely during operation, improve printing reliability, and send back engineering progress reports in real time.
Perhaps one of the greatest capabilities of 3D printing is the ability to combine multiple materials at low cost. The substances bound by certain properties, we call them "materials", such as wooden beams and paper, are basically wood fibers. What really sets them apart is the pattern of organization of these fibers.
A common goal of 3D printing is to enable printing of various composite materials from a single machine, enabling multiple manufacturing attributes for a project in one go. However, mesostructure material technology allows us to obtain more utilization values beyond single materials. Rather than relying on different materials for different properties, designers can use mesostructured materials technology to create an object with various desired performance characteristics, which only requires one machine and one component.