There was a time when 3D printing was the sole domain of science fiction and few people could have imagined that it would become a mainstream trend.
Of course, the very thought of printing anything that you like and have designed into practical into CAD files is really enthralling. This is why it is not just industrialists, educators and entrepreneurs; alone you have jumped onto the 3D printing bandwagon.
Today’s current enthusiasts and hobbyists have also taken to this trend like a duck to water.
However, this technology is not the panacea of each and everything in this world and there are inherent limitations of 3D Printing.
While this technology can certainly accomplish a lot, but there are nonetheless certain challenges that need to be taken care of. Let us take a quick look at the various limitations of 3D printing technology.
3D Printing Technology Consumes a Lot of Energy
3D printing technology is very expensive and it will put an additional charge on your shoulders. This technology requires a lot of power to operate. If you have been juggling to bring your energy expenses down, it is probable that 3D printing would eventually make your fight against such expenses even more difficult.
According to experts and researchers, it has been found that the sheer energy consumption via 3D printing is at least 100 times more than the electricity typically consumed by traditional manufacturing.
This consumption of non-renewable energy for its operation can turn out to be counterproductive for both the environment and financial prosperity, in the long run. This is why it is much more feasible to use this technology to only produce 3D printed products in small batch productions.
3D printers tend to be a bit expensive when it comes to the startup costs of a 3D production venture. If you are interested in the commercial aspects of 3D manufacturing and have a really limited budget, it is not possible to afford the kind of professional machines required for the task at hand, to begin with, you may not like the huge charges associated with a 3D printer.
Only one printing machine can cost you ranging from a hundred to well over thousands of dollars. Not just that, the material requirements and software and would come as an extra cost.
Small products can be printed at a cheaper cost. The design time of a part may vary. This is because 3D printing design time for any part cannot be decided in advance.
It is not as easy as it looks
People still think that 3D printing is an absolute breeze and anyone can do it right out of the box. While, it may be true for the most basic stuff but it doesn’t work that way in every case.
For example, most 3D printers are basically still ‘Do it yourself’ DIY models and you will have to assemble them on your own. This holds true for entry-level modes as well. Furthermore, there are several skills that you will have to learn and master long before you go on to printing your very first 3D print object.
This is nowhere near as good as exercise nor is it as user-friendly as many people perceive it to be.
You will have to have at least still working knowledge with CAD files and moreover, you will have to learn at least an elementary form of hardware settings for your 3D printers even before beginning to print your builds. This way you will be able to create new but limited products.
It Releases Harmful Gases into the Atmosphere
We all know that most types of plastics when they are melted emit extremely noxious fumes that are both harmful and dangerous for humans, especially if they are inhaled in any large amounts.
This holds particularly true for 3D printers that are put to use inside the closed doors of our workshops and houses. Researchers have discovered that carcinogenic particles may be introduced in the air during additive manufacturing of new products.
Many of these plastic particles can easily settle into our bloodstreams and they may cause severe congestion in our breathing system. From ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) to carcinogenic plastic chemicals that trigger cancer and many other harmful diseases.
Yes there do exist many 3D printing machines that come suitably well-equipped with HEPA filters, but that doesn’t mean that they are able to completely refine with one hundred percent success all of these fumes.
On the other hand machines that are not fully compliant with HEPA filters are just simply no help at all. All of these dangerous fumes generated during the 3D printing process end up circulating inside the house and so affect all those people who are in close proximity to the 3D printing machine.
Here, long term exposure can also lead to chronic problems with printers especially resin ones; you will have to take many precautions and will have to use gloves, goggles and a face mask. However, this does not mean that filament based 3D printers are completely safe, since they have their own issues regarding particulates and other pollutants that can irritate the lining of our lungs.
This is one of the biggest disadvantages of 3D printing. Apart from that, manufacturing sometimes also known as known as additive manufacturing is considerably faster than 3D printers. Sure, you can get a 3D printer, but it won’t be able to work as efficiently as traditional manufacturing processes.
This is because mass production and manufacturing is different from rapid prototyping. Something that 3D printers excel at. However, it can be used to complement manufacturing. Made to order production generally requires low skill jobs unlike 3D printing technology required to craft 3D printed parts.
What 3D printing is good for
3D printing can however, create a 3D model including models for industrial 3D as well. This is something that can aid in the manufacturing process later on. However, design work can also be done via the manufacturing process and it is cost-effective too, because the cost per unit for various parts is not very high.
Yes, 3D printing could create different parts, but only at the individual level. There are related methods that can create layer after layer as per manufacture requirements.
In this case all manufacture parts per 3D unit can potentially be used for mass manufacture. You can also create and print prototypes while using a 3D printer
Sometimes there is a need to create or make or even get high end parts. In this case using 3D printing technology could help a lot. This is irrelevant of the materials and material used.
You can try using this technology for prototyping since even low skill jobs can handle it. However, mass production will require manufacturing jobs though. Furthermore, the average 3D printer can also complement traditional manufacturing. Here, a 3D printer can be used for printing parts. It can also be used to make a new one time part design.
Many such products are made on a regular basis via much researched methods. In fact, you can make any product you want via manufacture. However one of the disadvantages of 3D printing is that you can’t produce stuff on a large scale.