We are at the peak of the 3D printing technology, and careers that our students will likely choose tomorrow will look more different from available careers today.
Before going into the details , consider checking out our post on Who Is A 3D Printing Specialist? How To Become One!
What industries benefit from 3D printing?
With most industries using 3D printing technology in their day-to-day production processes, we need to identify those industries that we consider to benefit most from 3D printing. Here are a few industries we believe are benefiting most from 3D printing:
The aerospace industry has key standards in part performance. The parts must withstand extreme chemicals and temperatures when subjected to recurrent loading while remaining light. Individual part failures may result in full system failures on cargo or passenger aircraft. Therefore, aerospace engineers have resolved to 3D printing inspection tooling that reduces low-volume parts costs.
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With 3D technology, the automotive industry has been charging ahead. High-profile companies like Audi are using 3D printers. Most common automotive parts printed by manufacturers include cradles, prototypes, and fixtures that need to be strong, stiff, and durable.
Industrial 3D printers are turning the old manufacturing industry completely, from fixtures and jigs all the way to tooling. Industries are creating custom, low volume fixtures and tooling at lower prices, giving engineers and designers more time to concentrate on revenue-generating parts. (Source)
From reduced weight to customizability, the factors that make robotics parts successful match well with 3D printing competencies. Robotics parts like sensor mounts and grippers are quite expensive to fabricate, hence should be custom designed to suit different uses. Robotics engineers employ 3D technology for end-user parts and end of arm tooling
With the rise in 3D technology use, educational institutes are now rushing to ensure they stay on the cutting edge of this new technology for education and research purposes. 3D printers serve as a crucial lesson plan for Ph.D. students using the 3D printers for research.
Check out our article on how 3d can printing be used in education.
Some 3D Printing Career Opportunities
While you can make your own business with 3d printing (Check out Can You Sell 3D Printed Items? Is It Legal?!), 3D design and printing have also created a vast range of careers in the job market, including:
- Space Architect
If you onboard the International Space Station, you will find a 3D printing facility where a variety of parts and tools needed on the ISS is produced. Could the future of space 3D printing include more than tools, but incorporate also printing structures? Well, this is a question you need to explore as a future space architect.
- 3D Chefs
In with a 3D printer and out with the kitchen knives. 3D chefs are capable of designing and producing tasty and beautiful culinary masterpieces from 3D printers loaded with delicious food. You can check out Food Ink restaurant, (source) where everything ranging from food to fittings is 3D printed. Possibilities here are endless!
- 3D Mechanic
A few cars have been printed using 3D technology, however, this is still far from mainstream. Just like other 3D printing applications, the automotive industry is also geared toward capitalizing on the economic advantages of 3D printing.
3D mechanics are needed to design and manufacture future 3D cars.
How about spare part replacements, car repairs, and customizations? 3D printing and design technology will enable printing out the exact part of your cars that require replacements, customizations, and repairs.
- 3D printing artist
It is only in 3D printing that you will find art and technology mixing together. Ranging from armature 3D artists to professional galleries, 3D printing, and design technology is today a part of the art world with 3D artists visualizing and creating amazing artworks that would not be thought of.
- Body parts 3D designer
The current 3D printing and design technology allow scientists to produce liver tissues, skin, blood vessels, bone, and kidney! However, these bio-printed tissues cannot be used in humans just yet. Who will be the people to design and produce 3D bio-printed organs that can save our lives? Again, this is an area that is under exploration.
What is the job outlook for 3D printing?
The job market for the 3D Printing industry is lucrative! According to markets and markets report (Source), additive manufacturing is projected to grow worth $32.78 billion by the year 2023, with a 25.76 percent annual compound growth rate.
This growth comes with huge money and demand for professionals in the 3D printing industry to control these sophisticated machines.
As the 3D printing industry grows, the job outlook for the 3D printing industry also expands, from 3D designers to nontechnical positions. Here are some of the jobs that will be created from the 3D printing industry:
- CAD modeling and 3D design
- Research and Development (R&D)
- Architecture/construction modeling
- Biological and scientific modeling
- Aerospace Engineers
- Legal professionals and Designers for law firms
- Operations and administrative positions
- On-staff experts
Also Check out our post on In What Situations Are 3D Printing Most Valuable? And Why Use It!
What problems can 3D printing solve?
As an engineer, you are always finding measures to help mitigate challenges within the manufacturing industry. Thanks to the emergence of new technologies, such as 3D printing (additive manufacturing), where you are empowered to solve more problems than ever before.
Here is a list of five problems can 3D printing technology can help solve:
- Speed and Lead Time
Quality industrial production takes time, and waiting anywhere from weeks to months for parts has been the case with traditional manufacturing methods. Advances in 3D technology are aiming to cut into expected lead times and, then, the time required for the products to get to the market.
- Cost Reduction
Industries are always striving to reduce operational costs, investing in 3D printing technology can help achieve this. Here is how:
- Ability to print multiple parts of an assembly simultaneously
- Reduce labor costs due to the largely automated technology and processes
- Using certain 3D technologies eliminates tooling-which can be time-consuming and expensive
With 3D printing technologies such as PolyJet, some companies have been able to reduce their operational cost by up to 95%
Check out our post on how much It cost to DIY 3D print?
- Risk mitigation
With traditional methods of manufacturing, mistakes in redesigns and prototyping can cost manufacturers a lot of resources and time. However, with 3D printing technology, the associated risks associated with missteps are largely mitigated due to a lack of tooling and molding requirements.
- Design complexity
One of the key draws for 3D printing technology is the level of complexity you can achieve when building parts. Since most of the traditional manufacturing restrictions do not apply in additive manufacturing, typical concerns such as draft angles and tool access are not put into consideration. This makes it more flexible for 3D engineers with the designs.
- Materials and sustainability
The sustainability factor has overwhelmed the manufacturing industry for a long time, and with the surge in consumerism, consumption of materials is expected to go high.
Certain additive manufacturing processes like HP’s Multi Jet Fusion are greatly helping towards achieving sustainability with reusable PA 11/PA 12 powders and less wasteful processes. The advance in additive manufacturing is geared towards keeping a similar trend that will lead to achieving more sustainability in the manufacturing industry. (Source)
What are the drawbacks of 3D printing in industries?
While the 3D printing industry keeps growing day by day, it is inevitable to overlook its drawbacks on lives. Here are some of the negative impacts of 3D printing technology on our lives:
- Health hazards
Recent studies show that 3D printers emit between 200million to 200 billion toxic tiny particles per minute. These dangerous particles can penetrate through our lungs and brain if inhaled, irritating. 3D printers use Nylon filament elements that emit caprolactam substances which can cause serious stomach, heart, and neurologic conditions.
Some use ABS filaments emitting Styrene substances that may cause cancer.
Most 3D printers use plastic filaments to manufacture objects, leaving behind plastic by-products that are not environmentally friendly. This is projected to cause more environmental damage than visible today with the rise in 3D technology.
With automation for quality job output and with minimal errors, the need for human labor to perform these tasks is fading which has a direct impact on the employment rate. More will be rendered jobless as less manpower is needed.
- High energy consumption
Big 3D printers will need a huge amount of energy. It is becoming a challenge, producing more energy to support the operation of these sophisticated machines.
The industrial 3D printing industry has grown to bring more amazing benefits to different sectors over the years. These benefits include low costs of production, growth in production, and reduced material use. 3D printing technology also enables engineers and designers to create anything from fixtures and jigs to visualization aids.
We cannot be certain what the future holds for us, but one thing is clear that the 3D printing technology is advancing with time. The possibilities of using 3D printing technology for manufacturing and product development across different sectors are limitless. It is time to let your thinking run wild.
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