Since its birth more than 20 years ago, 3D printing technology has been widely used in specialized fields such as aerospace, automobile, mold, biomedicine, electronics and construction, as well as in popular fields such as personal consumption, office and education. The advanced 3D laser printer can not only sinter or fuse plastic, wax and sand, but also directly sinter metal. Precision 3D printing has the largest 3D laser printer in China. The printer is 12 meters long. 3D printing is used to manufacture large and complex components for China’s commercial aircraft projects, including titanium fuselage skeleton and high-strength steel landing gear.
Relevant foreign experts once said: “3D printing has the potential to reform almost everything we manufacture”. As said, 3D printing has the potential to set off a disruptive revolution in the manufacturing industry, but at present, 3D printing is not “red” enough to revolutionize. The saying “3D printing can drive the third industrial revolution” has been circulating on the Internet, but so far no one has given a rigorous definition to the third industrial revolution. If you don’t even know what the third industrial revolution is, how can you conclude whether it can drive the revolution?
Compared with the previous two industrial revolutions, when 3D printing technology is widely used, the modern manufacturing industry may no longer use the production mode of large-scale centralization of production factors such as manpower, capital and equipment, but change into a more flexible and less investment production mode based on 3D printer. This trend is called “social manufacturing”. When this method is widely used, everyone can be a factory.
3D printing technology is revolutionary, but not necessarily subversive. It can be the soul of manufacturing, not all. 3D printing shortens the life cycle from design to hand board to large-scale manufacturing, especially for complex products. However, it also has great room for improvement and expansion. Now 3D printing technology is still developing rapidly. It is more suitable for printing small models. For particularly large equipment and buildings, it may not have a comprehensive competitive advantage in terms of time and cost.
Will 3D printing bring a disruptive revolution? The key to the problem is not whether its power can overthrow the traditional manufacturing industry, but whether it can enhance individual creativity. 3D printing itself is a kind of mechanical manufacturing (additive manufacturing in the three categories of mechanical manufacturing). The maturity of 3D printing technology also marks the maturity of mechanical manufacturing. Human beings are the creators of tools. The future trend should be to release individual creativity from the factory and return the ability of innovation to everyone. Recommended reading: choosing the appropriate 3D printing method can reduce the cost and error rate of enterprises