Large scale 3D printing in the manufacturing and distribution industry, also known as additive manufacturing, operates as an alternative to manually building parts. From medical device production to aerospace engineering, large scale 3D printing offers the potential to achieve a better approach to building three-dimensional solid objects.
Large Scale 3D Printing and its Benefits
3D printing creates parts and structures from digital designs by adding layers of material together to create complex shapes, using plastic, metal, glass, and more. Compared to alternative manual procedures, large scale 3D printing decreases production time and manual labor. In some cases, additive manufacturing skips steps that are taken with non-3D printing techniques. Additive manufacturing, additionally, creates objects that are lightweight and entirely customizable in shape.
While large scale 3D printing is expensive, the process of designing and erecting large structures or parts is often simplified when printed using additive manufacturing. Thus resources and time are decreased and typically result in expenses being close in range to alternative non-3D printing options. From ideation to completion, the time it takes to fulfill a large scale 3D printing project is shortened because objects are created directly from digital design.
The Future of Flight
Currently, aircraft designers and manufacturers use additive manufacturing to print cosmetic interior aircraft parts. This includes vents, door latch components, arm rest caps, and more—simplifying the production of interior cosmetic parts and applications. While not entirely glitzy, large scale 3D printing is likely only going to grow from here. Will your next flight be 3D printed? The short answer is no. However, your next flight may likely feature 3D printed objects throughout your cabin, and you won’t even know the difference from previous flights before.
According to Global Industry Analysts, Inc., the 3D printing market is expected to reach nearly $10 billion by 2020. The aircraft manufacturing industry, being one of the first to consistently utilize additive manufacturing for parts and structures, continues to support large scale 3D printing. As additive manufacturing advances, so will industry involvement.