Technology

Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing… result of social evolution?

I would say, yes. We only had to look at the quick evolution in the use of technology that we are living in our society, both locally and globally, at user level and at large companies. More and more technology and connectivity are the basis of our daily tasks. This hyper-connectivity through our mobile and social networks that we live today at the user level, is transformed in the industry into the concept of Industry 4.0. 3D printing is the paradigm of Industry 4.0 in terms of manufacturing, allowing to reproduce any object, anywhere in the world, from a 3D model. Although 3D printing cannot be said to be innovative, since the first technologies began to be used around 1985, its use as manufacturing technology in the productive environment is relatively new, and in fact it is still on the innovation agenda of the most industrial companies.
Customization. The tendency in our society to personalize more and more the products to the needs and tastes of the final consumers. We see in consumer good, in cars, in services, etc. There is a great push in the modern economy for personalization. 3D printing is, between all manufacturing technologies, the one that allows a greater degree of customization at the lowest cost. Each product made in a 3D printer, might contain a different model without hardly introducing changes in the process.
Democratization – Innovation and development from the mass. 3D printing brings design and manufacturing closer to individuals, since it allows anybody to create objects and experiment with new concepts in a much more economical way, making possible you to produce your own spare parts (DIY Do-It-Yourself), or new creations, in your home. This concept translated to industrial environments, allows teams to be more collaborative and interactive, reduces time to market and contributes to reduce barriers to innovation.
Sustainability. In this sense, 3D printing plays a fundamental role, optimizing supply chains, reducing transportation costs and their environmental consequences, reducing inventory by manufacturing spare parts near the point of need and at the time of consumption, and at the end, minimizing the maintenance of large warehouses of manufactured parts, with the consequent economic and environmental expense, without knowing when, or even if at any time, that spares will be used.
Even more, the fact that the technology is ‘additive’ is also a material saving benefit, since the material is deposited only where is needed, as opposed to the ‘subtractive’ technologies, which cut off excess material, which generates waste that subsequently must be recycled.