The basic rule of 3D printing is that it is an additive technique used in manufacturing which is unlike the machining, turning, milling, sawing, etc which are subtractive. 3D printing is therefore a method used in the manufacturing of everything ranging from jewelry to guns, aerospace parts and others, (Anthony, 2012).
How does it work?
3D printer operates by following a computer’s digital instructions which gives the order to “print”. This is done using various materials such as plastic, ceramics and metal. The process of printing is done in several stages building up an object one layer at a time until it is finished. For example to print the design of a shoe, the 3D printer squirts out a ...view middle of the document...
However, 3D printing can be used to overcome these obstacles as it enables the creators to be able make their digital files of the new designs and the simply print them at the place of the business. This can prove to be much easier than producing the prototype by hand as well as resulting in far less expenses as compared with finding offsite facilities to produce the prototypes. 3D printers can also be used to design industrial products as well as for manufacturing operations but on a small scale, (Pilon, 2013).
Impact of 3D printing on supply chains
3D printing has the ability to transform the manufacturing industry while having a significant impact on the supply chain. Traditionally a supply chain process involves having the manufactured goods “pushed out” and distributed to various warehouses in order to reach the customers. Hence, products are mass produced. The outcome of this process is long lead time, large carbon footprint and high transportation cost.
This can all be transformed with the 3D printing where the goods are locally printed and distributed. The company is also able to engage in customized production and hence “pulled” by the demands of the end customers. Thus resulting in short lead time, low carbon footprint and low transportation cost, (Hessman, 2013).
Environmental Impact of 3D printing
There are several benefits to be derived from the use 3D printers in the home as well as businesses. It uses less energy and hence less carbon dioxide is released as compared with the production taking place in a factory and shipping it to a warehouse. A reduction in the use of material will also be experienced with the use of 3D printers. For example, children’s blocks are usually produced using solid wood or plastic. However, with 3D printed blocks less material would be used as the blocks can be made partially...