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3D printing is a supplement to traditional manufacturing

Posted by: chinaeye 2021-10-20 Comments Off on 3D printing is a supplement to traditional manufacturing

The emergence of “3D printing” has brought new opportunities to traditional manufacturing. The digital manufacturing model represented by 3D printing technology is considered by the British “Economist” magazine as “the most iconic production tool of the third industrial revolution”. Some experts believe that 3D printers may be a “masterpiece” that embodies the characteristics of intelligence, greenness, and efficiency in the new round of industrial revolution. The United States and other developed countries have identified additive manufacturing as an important engine of manufacturing innovation.

Due to the breakthrough progress of 3D printing, people are talking about the U.S. taking this to revitalize the manufacturing industry. The logic is that this technology avoids the disadvantage of high labor costs in the United States and can achieve no manual operation. Moreover, the manufacturing process greatly saves materials and costs, and it is completely unnecessary to outsource manufacturing to China.

But it needs to be emphasized that 3D printing is not suitable for mass production. The unit cost of producing 1 piece is close to producing 10,000 pieces, which will not cause too much impact on traditional mass-produced products. And mass production is exactly what “Made in China” is good at. 3D printing technology will not pose any challenge to traditional manufacturing. The so-called “challenge” seems to be just a false proposition, and it is not worthy of our worry too much.

For mass-produced ordinary consumables, we still rely on mass production. 3D printing will not replace all molds, but will only accelerate the upgrade of the mold industry, making it simpler, more convenient, faster, and more practical. For high-end industrial products, materials and processes are the core competitiveness, and the time cost is often greater than the labor cost.

3D printing technology is a major technological revolution compared to traditional manufacturing technology. It can solve technical problems that the traditional manufacturing industry cannot solve, and will play a positive role in promoting the transformation and upgrading and structural adjustment of the traditional manufacturing industry. However, the batch, large-scale, and lean production that traditional manufacturing is good at are precisely the shortcomings of 3D printing technology. Therefore, 3D printing technology itself cannot replace traditional manufacturing, nor is it to replace traditional manufacturing, but to inject fresh impetus into the innovation and development of traditional manufacturing.

As for whether 3D printing technology can promote the third industrial revolution, we believe that it is too early to discuss this issue and has no practical significance. At present, 3D printing technology is still facing bottlenecks in terms of raw materials, precision, and process stability. Since 3D printing technology is not a very substitute technology, and most of the domestic scientific research institutions and enterprises engaged in 3D printing technology research and development are currently small and scattered, and their own affairs, the industrialization of 3D printing will be a long process.

3D printing will not replace traditional manufacturing

“3D printing should completely replace traditional manufacturing. In the future, without factories, workshops, workers, or going out, you can print anything you want at home”, “You can print bicycles and airplanes through 3D printers”, “3D printing It will enable the factory to completely say goodbye to traditional tools such as lathes, drills, punching machines, and mold making machines, and to be dominated by more dexterous computer software”…This is the view of many people and is often reported by some media.

Many people are very concerned about these issues, and some experts and media have always vowed to say that 3D printing will replace traditional manufacturing. And when you have a deeper understanding of 3D printing, you will find that this view is not reliable.

According to the principle of 3D printing technology, it is undeniable that 3D printing is really so “god”, and it can indeed print anything you design. However, we must clearly realize that what is printed is not necessarily the “thing” we need. Can the printed cup drink water? Can the printed airplane fly? Can the printed bicycle be ridden? Can the printed pistol be used? …

Indeed, the printed cup must be a cup, not something else. The printed airplane must be the airplane designed on the computer. The portrait printed according to your image must be you, not someone else. A wrinkle as thin as a hair can be printed, and the color can be the same as the real thing. But, can we really make the factory say goodbye to traditional tools such as lathes, drills, punching machines, and mold making machines?

When we were happy, we suddenly discovered that the original prints were only models, and most of them were not real products. Even objects such as real cups do not mean that we can use them to drink water. For cups produced by traditional methods, we must first consider whether the materials are environmentally friendly and whether they have an impact on human health. However, it is not easy for 3D printing to achieve this. First, the materials are not yet available, and there is no way to provide us with a wide range of materials that can meet various functional needs; second, the lack of quality inspection methods for homes . The printed airplane and bicycle are just a shell or a model, and it is impossible to print out electronic components and thousands of parts all at once. Whether it is an airplane or a bicycle, it is impossible to use it directly, and countless parts and functional parts need to be added.

The use of 3D printing technology to print real objects is indeed not a problem, nor is it new. But whether the printed things can be used and whether they can replace things produced in traditional ways is not necessarily true. Even if the things we print meet environmental protection requirements, it is impossible to print everything we need ourselves. Different things require different materials, and each of our families has become a factory for this. We have to prepare hundreds of materials and take up almost all of our life, busy designing and printing our own products. Calculated in this way, its cost will be much higher than that of products manufactured by traditional production methods, and it will not bring joy to one’s life.

In the field of traditional manufacturing, mold opening is a very troublesome task, which is time-consuming, difficult, and costly. The advantages of 3D printing technology are precisely reflected in product design (model design). Any complex and personalized product that can be designed can be printed out through 3D printing technology, and even directly manufactured.

Although 3D printing technology can print a variety of products we need, from the comprehensive comparison of cost accounting, material constraints, process level and other factors, 3D printing cannot replace traditional production methods.

The core significance of 3D printing is reflected in two aspects: one is that personalized, complex and difficult products that cannot be produced by traditional production methods can be directly manufactured through 3D printing technology; the other is that although traditional methods can be produced and manufactured, the investment cost is too high. High, the cycle is too long, 3D printing technology can achieve the purpose of fast, convenient, shorten the cycle, and reduce costs.

Therefore, it is unrealistic that 3D printing technology will replace the traditional manufacturing industry. First, the cost is not cost-effective and cannot meet the requirements of large-scale; second, 3D printing cannot make the factory completely say goodbye to lathes, drills, punching machines, and mold making machines. And other traditional tools.

3D printing technology, as a major change in traditional production methods, is a useful supplement to traditional production methods. Proclaiming that 3D printing technology will completely replace traditional manufacturing is a serious misleading. It is neither scientific nor practical, and it is impossible to do so. The key reason is that any commodity we need in production and life is functional, and any functional commodity is made of different materials. We need many kinds of commodities in our production and life, but it is impossible for each of our families to become factories to purchase many kinds of materials. If everything we need is printed by ourselves, firstly, the cost will greatly exceed the similar products purchased in the mall; secondly, after thousands of years of development, traditional manufacturing is more mature than 3D printing technology in terms of production technology.

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